Education

Rock Hill schools seek comment on $138.9 million operating budget

Pew
Pew

The Rock Hill School Board will hold a 6 p.m. Monday public hearing on a proposed $138.9 million operating budget for the next school year.

School administrators said operating costs for 2015-2016 school year were initially expected to be $141.6 million, but they identified $2.7 million in cuts.

As proposed, the budget does not increase property taxes. Superintendent Kelly Pew said it was important to offer a balanced budget because of the board’s recent promise to voters before last month’s bond referendum. Officials told voters if they approved the issue of $110 million in bonds to pay for a variety of projects, the program would not result in a property tax hike.

The $2.7 million in cuts fall into four categories:

▪ Personnel and unfilled positions. Some vacancies would be eliminated; no current teachers would be fired, Pew has said. Teachers and staffers would be eligible for about a 2-percent pay raise. The “step increase” for teachers is estimated to cost $1.2 million.

The budget proposes hiring four people and contracting for some services, such as translators and technology services, at an estimated cost of $690,000. Not filling some vacant positions would save about $653,000, according to the proposed budget.

Staying within the budget for substitute teachers would save the district $300,000. Pew said the district initially considered increasing the substitute budget but decided to give school administrators an allocation they can’t exceed. The district budgets $1 million for substitutes. Kelly Staffing provides the district with short-term substitute teachers.

▪ Programs. Consolidation is on the table for the district’s three alternative education programs – The Phoenix Academy, Rebound, and the Renaissance Academy – as well as restructuring the after-school Challenger academic program. The weekly cost of the Challenger program would increase by $5. The horticulture program at the Applied Technology Center could also be cut. Program changes would save about $615,000.

Some school board members have been concerned over the proposed changes to the alternative education programs.

▪ Operations. The maintenance staff would work four 10-hour shifts, potentially reducing the amount of overtime. Maintenance contracts with firms outside the school district also could be renegotiated. The estimated savings would be about $520,000. Temperatures in district buildings would be increased by a degree, saving the school system $125,000.

▪  School class size. Changing the ratio of teachers to students could save the district $585,000, or nine teaching positions. Pew said the nine positions would be eliminated through teachers moving or retiring. The number of students in some classes could increase by one student, said Rebecca Partlow, executive director for personnel.

The ratio varies by grade level. It’s about one teacher to 23 students for elementary classes and one teacher to 25 or 26 students in middle school. In high school, the average is about one teacher per 21 or 22 students, according to Partlow.

The projected enrollment for Rock Hill school for the upcoming year is 17,195 students. The base student cost is $2,220.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

Public hearing

A public hearing on the proposed operating budget for Rock Hill Schools for the 2015-16 school year will be 6 p.m. Monday in the District Office at 660 N. Anderson Road in Rock Hill.

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