Education

York County's growing schools call for business tax hikes so they can hire teachers

Amid growth, York County school districts are calling for tax increases for the 2018-2019 school year. York, Chester and Lancaster County schools are in the process of approving next year's operating budgets. File photo.
Amid growth, York County school districts are calling for tax increases for the 2018-2019 school year. York, Chester and Lancaster County schools are in the process of approving next year's operating budgets. File photo. tkimball@heraldonline.com

York and Lancaster County school districts are calling for tax increases for the 2018-'19 school year.

The tax increase applies to businesses, non-owner occupied homes and rental properties.

The tax increase will not affect homeowners' primary residence. That's the result of Act 388, South Carolina’s property tax reform measure, which replaced a tax levy on primary homes with a one-cent sales tax increase on most retail purchases to pay for school operations. Act 388 has left many school districts short on revenue, resulting in spending cuts and the scaling back or elimination of programs.

The state is not fully funding the base student cost. In the state's appropriations bill, which has not yet been finalized for the upcoming fiscal year, the base student cost will be at most $2,485 per student, a $60 increase from last year. The fully funded base student cost is a recommended $3,018, according to the school districts.

"Our legislators tell us that they are very aware that they should not create unfunded mandates for us but this continues every year," said Clover school district Superintendent Marc Sosne. "Every year they create a little bit bigger deficit for us."

Rock Hill

The Rock Hill school district has proposed a $160.7 million budget, which includes a tax increase. The increase will amount to $42 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business, according to the district.

The budget includes a one percent cost of living salary increase and a step increase for teachers and other staff. New positions in the budget include new teachers for elementary, middle and high schools, new positions to support the language immersion and inquiry programs and new positions for Cherry Park Elementary School, which will house the district's language immersion academy and opens in the fall.

The budget also includes funding for two extra Catawba Mental Health service providers in the schools.

"They are therapists that are placed in the schools that work with individual students and their families, as far as therapy is concerned, above and beyond what our counselors do," said Keith Wilks, executive director of student services.

Rock Hill also included funding for eight additional behavior management assistants, allowing each elementary school in the district to have an assistant full-time, including Cherry Park and the Central Child Development Center, said Terri Smith, chief finance officer for the district.

Rock Hill is also including a $1/hour increase for bus driver salaries.

The Rock Hill school board is set to approve the budget at the June 25 board meeting. The Rock Hill district serves around 18,000 students.

Fort Mill

The Fort Mill school board approved on June 5 a 2018-'19 budget of $131 million. Fort Mill expects to serve close to 16,000 students when classes resume.

The budget includes a tax increase. The increase will amount to $48 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business, said Joe Burke, district spokesperson.

Fort Mill is adding 58 new classroom teaching positions next school year to account for growth, a $4.4 million investment, according to the district.

The budget also includes a 2 percent cost of living salary increase for all staff, a salary step increase for all staff, new special education teachers, planning for Catawba Ridge High School, general maintenance and other expenditures.

Clover

The Clover school board is set to approve an $84.9 million budget for 2018-'19 during the school board meeting on June 25 at the district office, 604 Bethel Street. That's about a six percent increase from last school year.

The proposed budget includes a tax increase that will amount to $36 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business.

Clover's budget includes 27 new positions, including new teachers and additional support staff, a $1.3 million investment. Clover has grown by about four percent each year for the last few years, with much of the growth in Lake Wylie, according to the district. Clover serves more than 7,500 students.

The budget also includes a salary step increase for teachers and other staff.

Clover also included funds to add a computerized sign-in system for all schools within the district.

Included in the budget is $275,000 to support the district's athletics programs.

Ken Love, assistant superintendent for business services, said the goal is to ensure the district is providing the basic needs for its athletic programs. Those items include officials, bus drivers, uniform replacement, equipment, camp fees and awards.

York

The York school board approved Tuesday a $46.7 million budget. The budget includes a tax increase that will result in $42 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business.

The budget includes salary step increases for all employees, a one percent salary increase for all employees and a new teacher for Jefferson Elementary School. York schools serve more than 5,200 students.

Lancaster County

The Lancaster County School District invites the public to a hearing on the budget at 5:30 p.m. on June 26.

The district is considering a budget of about $112 million, a 9 percent increase from 2017-18. The proposed budget includes a tax increase that will amount to $12 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business.

There are more than 12,900 students in Lancaster County schools.

Chester County

The Chester County School District will hold a public meeting on the budget at 5:30 p.m. on June 28 at the district office, 509 District Office Drive in Chester. Chester County serves more than 5,200 students.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082
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