Berkeley County School District expects budget increase up to $8 million

VIDEO: Berkeley County School District expects budget increase up to $8 million

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District sees a large increase in projected revenues based on the explosive growth in Berkeley County.

Katie Tanner, a spokesperson for the district, says the increase will likely add $6-$8 million dollars to the district’s budget.

“The county shared that there was going to be this revenue that was going to be available to the school district,” said Tanner. “The amount was what was very exciting to everybody. You hear 1 to 2 million dollars, but 6 to 8 million dollars was significant."

Additionally, the board does anticipate a tax millage rollback consistent with state law.

According to a news release, Chief Financial Officer Ashley Smith advised the board that she is “constantly monitoring the revenue estimates of the budget based on newly acquired information and this year is particularly difficult, as it is a county-wide reassessment year.”

On Tuesday, the Finance Committee called a special meeting to make recommendations on how to allocate the extra funds.

Members voted to approve six budget recommendations that could be a great benefit to students in Berkeley County schools.

The following recommendations are:

  • Lowering second grade class size from 25 students to 21 per teacher. Second grade is a pivotal year for reading comprehension and growth.
  • Increase every employee’s pay by 1-2%, in addition to the previously approved 4%, resulting in a total 5-6%.
  • Reduce the elementary resource teacher allocation from 33 students per teacher to 20 students per teacher.
  • Add 39 special education instructional assistants to support classroom learning in every self-contained special education classroom.
  • Provide a $100.00 match for every qualifying teacher to increase the teacher supply check to $375.00 (the state currently funds $275.00).
  • Increase critical school-level leadership positions (8 district-wide) for program and special education support.

Kelly Gabriel, the principal at Berkeley Elementary School, says the recommendations will not only help boost teacher morale and performance in the classroom, but will also have a significant impact on students.

“It will give more instructional time between the teacher and the student. That means they’ll have smaller groups to work with. So it just automatically impacts the student achievement,” said Gabriel.

The Finance Committee will present all of the recommendations to the full board meeting next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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