Enquirer Herald

Clover school board OKs $71.8 million budget

A $71.8 million Clover School District budget for 2014-15 received unanimous approval Monday night from the board.

The budget is a $2.6 million increase over last year’s budget and includes a 6 mill increase for operations, but no debt service increase.

“We will have to do that next year after we issue the bonds,” said Ken Love, district finance director.

No one spoke during the public hearing period before the board meeting.

The budget includes 23 new positions. Included in the operations budget are 16 new teaching and two technical staff positions, two fine arts teaching assistant positions, three technology coaches, a step increase for teachers and more money for more substitute teachers.

The lone substantive change from what the district presented in May is an increase for technology. The district budgeted $1.4 million for the second year of a three-year contract with Apple for its Connected Classroom project, allowing students use of iPads or MacBook Airs this fall. The figure in the approved budget is $1.8 million.

“We have determined that we need to hit another 720 units,” Love said.

Love said the district “just miscounted” how many units it would need, but the operations budget won’t increase as a result since state funds for technology improvements and IT budgeted money will join income from trading in existing units to cover the difference.

The trade-ins also will “put all the instruction folks on the same platform,” Love said. The state technology upgrade money was a last-minute addition to its budget approved by Gov. Nikki Haley.

“It was sort of a windfall for us,” said Superintendent Marc Sosne. “It came at a good time.”

State law dictates the operations increase for the coming school year won’t be paid by owner-occupied home taxes.

“It will affect businesses, second homes and rentals, those sorts of things,” Sosne said.

Under this tax increase, businesses assessed at a rate of 6 percent, which includes most retail businesses and the owners of second homes, would pay $36 more for each $100,000 in assessed property value. Manufacturing businesses, which are assessed at 10.5 percent, would pay $63 more for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

Raising debt service millage next year will impact homeowners.

The school board also approved a resolution starting the process to sell bonds, which voters approved in March. The bonds will pay for new schools, renovations, athletic field surfaces and a new aquatic center.

“It simply allows us to advertise for the sale of the bond in July or August,” Love said.

Love is hopeful the district can put the bonds up for sale soon.

“If interest rates stay where they are, it looks like things could be a little better than we talked about at bond time,” he said.