Education

Rock Hill teachers, coaches will benefit in 2019-20 school budget. Here’s how.

First-year teachers in the Rock Hill school district now will make a minimum of $39,899 per year.

As part of a listen and learn on the preliminary 2019-2020 budget, the district announced Tuesday the new base salary for all starting teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience will be above a proposed state minimum.

“We want to have the most qualified, the best teachers, the best administrators working with our students,” said Superintendent Bill Cook.

For 2018-19, a Rock Hill teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience makes $34,673 a year. Teachers who hold a doctor’s degree and have at least 25 years’ experience, make $76,125, according to the district.

All Rock Hill teachers should see a pay increase next school year. South Carolina lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a $9.3 billion state budget that includes a 4% pay raise for teachers and sets the starting teacher salary at $35,000, reports The State newspaper. Gov. Henry McMaster still needs to sign the budget into law.

Rock Hill also is proposing a four percent salary increase and step raise for all eligible employees. Updated salary schedules will be published soon.

Rock Hill will receive $3.5 million from the state for the mandated four percent raise, a total cost of $4.1 million, and increase in starting pay, The Herald previously reported. The district will need to spend $1.9 million to cover teacher salary increases, including a step increase for teachers ($1.3 million).

Rock Hill isn’t the only school in York County increasing teacher salaries. York Preparatory Academy, a K-12 charter school in Rock Hill, has set the starting salary of the school’s full-time, certified teachers to $40,000.

Both the Rock Hill school district and York Prep’s starting teacher salary are above the national average of $39,249 and above the South Carolina average of $33,148, according to 2017-18 average starting teacher salaries provided by the National Education Association.

Teacher salaries and education funding were two of the issues educators from across the state highlighted during a May 1 rally at the statehouse. More than 10,000 educators and supporters joined the march.

Rock Hill budget highlights:

  • A public hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. June 10 at the district office, 386 E Black St. The board is expected to approve the budget on June 24.
  • Rock Hill is proposing a $170 million budget for 2019-20, a 5.75 percent increase from 2018-19, said Terri Smith, chief finance officer for the school district.

  • The district will receive $108 million from the state and $61.5 million will be funded locally, Smith said. Another $575,000 will come from costs to food service and other district programs.
  • Employee salaries and benefits account for 87.5 percent of the budget, Smith said.
  • To address safety and security needs, the proposed budget calls for two nurses and five mental health counselors, according to the district. The district also plans to hire a security technician, who will assist with maintenance of cameras, public address systems, intercoms and other district safety and security systems, Mychal Frost, spokesperson for the district, said Wednesday.
  • Rock Hill is planning to hire three new Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teachers, six new ESE classroom assistants, a physical therapist and two language immersion teachers. The district opened for 2018-19 the Cherry Park Elementary School of Language Immersion, which houses the district’s Spanish and French language immersion programs.

Tax increase

Rock Hill’s budget includes a tax increase, which amounts to $36 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business, according to the district. The tax increase will bring in an additional $1.8 million.

Tax increases only apply to businesses, non-owner occupied homes and rental properties.

Act 388, South Carolina’s property tax reform measure, replaced tax on primary homes with a one-time sales tax increase on retail purchases to support school operations. Act 388 has led to a loss of revenue for public schools.

Public school districts are not fully funded from the state. Under state law, the base student cost should be $3,095 for 2019-20, Smith said.

The state has set the base student cost at $2,487, resulting in a loss of $10.7 million in state revenue for Rock Hill for next school year, Smith said.

Since 1977, the base student cost has been fully funded nine times, Smith said.

More pay for coaches

Rock Hill also is addressing athletics needs with a five percent increase to coaching salary supplements, the first increase in 20 years, according to the district.

“(We want) the best coaches on our fields and our courts working with our children,” Cook said.

The district’s athletics advisory council, put in place this school year, evaluated facilities within the district, looked at school spirit and culture and made recommendations that included the coaching supplement increase, Frost said Wednesday.

“At one time Rock Hill Schools’ coaches were among the highest paid in the state, which was an advantage in recruiting and retaining high-quality coaches,” Frost said in a prepared statement sent Wednesday. “This is no longer the case, and it was a recommended by the athletic advisory council to increase coaching supplements 5%.”

The 2019-20 budget aims to address the district’s goals, which include safety, teacher retention and student success, Cook said.

“Our budget is a direct reflection of the needs for our students that we have heard loud and clearly our board of trustees and our community say,” he said.

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