Fort Mill Times

School officials wrestling with $2 million shortfall

School leaders in Fort Mill put red pens to next year's proposed budget in an effort to trim expenses.

They've reassigned some positions and cut others, saving the district about $2,787,453.

They've introduced furlough days for administrators and teachers.

That yielded a $565,901 savings.

They've put the brakes on purchasing a new payroll system.

That move saved about $56,280.

They've trimmed transportation schedules.

That reaped a savings of $107,776.

And they've frozen 11 unfilled vacancies.

The result?

A $66.9 million endeavor that mandates instructional opportunities for Fort Mill students.

"It is the minimum budget that we can operate on next year with opening two new elementary schools," said Leanne Lordo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations.

"This budget is even a reduction of our current operating budget, which is $68 million."

Now, there's a $2.7 million windfall.

That's the federal stimulus money that sat in limbo for months. Then, the state's top court heard arguments last week suggesting why the state shouldn't take the money.

Gov. Mark Sanford formally requested the money Monday.

"If we get the stimulus [money], we will ask the school board to use part of it instead of furloughing," Lordo said.

That could mean that teachers will not have to take two mandated days off without pay. Administrators such as Superintendent Keith Callicutt face a four-day furlough.

The Fort Mill School Board is slated to have a public hearing during its next business meeting. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 15, at the multipurpose room at Nation Ford High School.