Rock Hill schools’ budget will pay for iPad initiative

dworthington@heraldonline.comJune 24, 2013 

— The Rock Hill school board on Monday adopted a $129.1 million operating budget for 2013-14 that includes money for the district’s iRock digital education initiative and to hire 29 new people, including 10 teachers.

The budget does not raise taxes or use money from the district’s reserves, chairman Jim Vining said.

The budget includes money to pay for a pay raise of about 2 percent for most teachers and staff members.

For teachers or staff members already at the top of their pay scale, the board approved a 1 percent bonus during the middle of the school year.

Several board members said they are concerned that some employees might consider leaving the district if they aren’t paid more.

“Are the raises as much as we wanted? No,” Vining said. “But they are a necessary step to keep employees.”

Vice chairman Walter Brown said employees’ looking for new jobs is “always one of the dangers you have. I hope the education environment we offer helps compensate for that.”

Rock Hill schools will change that environment next fall with iRock, the district’s technology initiative that will provide iPads to students in grades four through eight. School officials estimate the program will cost at least $9 million over the first two years, with money coming from multiple sources.

About $2.2 million is included in the 2013-14 budget for new positions, tech support and teacher training.

Board member Ann Reid said she hopes iRock will increase student performance without raising taxes.

With better communication, board member Ginny Moe said, the schools might have gotten enough community support for a slight tax increase to implement iRock in all grades.

The 2013-14 budget is a 3.3 percent increase over the current budget of $124.9 million.

Other financial items approved Monday were:

• An $8 million tax anticipation note to cover the district’s expenses while it awaits tax payments.

• A $1.5 million technology bond that will be used to buy about 500 MacBook Pro computers for teachers, replace about 300 aging desktop computers and spend $500,000 to improve the school district’s computer network.

• A $3.5 million bond to pay for renovations, repairs and safety improvements at several schools.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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