Charleston Co. school breaks down annual cost of ownership and upgrade budget

The Charleston County School District spent nearly $50 million maintaining and improving facilities in 2022.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 3:06 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 9:12 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District spent nearly $50 million maintaining and improving facilities in 2022.

The annual report details all the repairs, renovations, and replacements from 575 projects in 83 school buildings this year. These projects include new playgrounds, replacing security equipment, furniture upgrades and new technology in libraries and classrooms. Some also went to athletic and arts equipment.

Chief Operations Officer for the Charleston County School District Jeff Borowy says a lot of people work full-time to make the budget and work happen.

“It is a pretty detailed process and none of the programs are exactly the same, you know, the programs vary all the way from buying musical instruments for classrooms, to replacing toilets. I mean, it’s just a wide range of programs, but each of the program managers is responsible for developing their budget, prioritizing the projects for approval and then executing the work,” Borowy says.

Overall, about 34% or 196 of 575 projects happened in the North Charleston district. The next highest recipient was Mount Pleasant getting 90 total projects. In the presentation Borowy detailed the projects.

Facility breakdown chart from the Charleston County School District
Facility breakdown chart from the Charleston County School District(Charleston County School District)

Borowy says there are a few factors that decide where the money goes. One is the lifecycle of equipment like cameras or buses. Another is the condition of facilities.

“Most of their work is governed by the condition at the facility, respective building system is in so we measure the status of our schools by where the roof is the age fact the bathrooms, the flooring, the windows, all of that, each year, it gets rated by the by the asset managers, we have a person that’s designated be kind of the champion of each of those building systems for all of our schools,” Borowy says.

One of the highest investments was in facilities management, meaning things like roof repairs, design projects, fencing work, flooring and painting.

“Basically manage the equivalent of 5,000 homes with the school district property. So if you can imagine the money you need to keep 5,000 home to run in between each back, roofs, flooring, bathrooms, I mean, so it’s a pretty a lot of folks because we’re spread out over 100 miles. A lot of people don’t realize how much how many buildings we have,” Borowy says.

Officials say this is all a part of the work behind the scenes it takes to run the district and continue to provide education every day.

“I think the program was not funded as well as it could have been five, six, seven years ago. Fortunately, we worked with a Board of Trustees at that time that saw the need to ensure that we stayed on par to give the students the right type of equipment and facilities, both from a safety perspective, but also from just a modernization perspective and making them feel like they were in a place of quality. And so our Board of Trustees approved increases over the years,” Borowy says.

Borowy says with recent inflation causing price increases in a lot of areas, there is always still more to be done and does hope for even more funding to keep maintaining and bettering the schools next year.

A breakdown of the funding allocation to different areas:

  • $13 million to facilities and management
  • $1.35 million to playgrounds
  • $2.25 million to security and emergency management
  • $9 million to IT
  • $1.2 million to media modernization
  • $1.6 million to furniture, fixture and equipment
  • $200,000 to fine arts
  • $250,000 to athletics
  • $3.5 million to career and technology education to gut and replace the Culinary Arts Lab at West Ashley and Military Magnet High Schools
  • $250,000 planning and real estate
  • $965,000 115 transportation
  • $108,000 to nursing