LEXINGTON, S.C. — Lexington County School District One administrators presented a third reading of the district’s 2017–2018 general fund operating budget at a public hearing held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, 2017.
The general fund operating budget provides funding for the day-to-day operations of the district such as paying salaries, insurance and utilities, and purchasing supplies, materials and services. This is not to be confused with the district’s capital budget which funds fixed assets such as facilities and equipment.
The Lexington County School District One Board of Trustees approved the district’s 2017–2018 general fund operating budget at the monthly board meeting that followed the public hearing.
There were changes from second to third reading. In the third reading of the budget, Lexington District One administrators recommended a $262,743,365 general fund budget.
Lexington District One administrators added a one percent salary increase for all employees at a cost of $1,717,489, 10 more teacher pool positions for first and second grade student to teacher ratio reduction at a cost of $710,180, 3.5 other pool positions at a cost of $248,564, one assistant principal at a cost of $95,744, $24,000 for 4-year-old kindergarten supplies and reduced the budget by $4,760 in a change to the number of contract days for a floating nurse and by $14,000 in the area of dual credit textbooks.
The $262,743,365 general fund budget is a 7.3 percent increase over Lexington District One’s current operating budget for 2016–2017 of $244,815,426 and includes a recommended increase of $14,868,050 in employee salaries and related costs (6.9% increase) and an increase of $3,059,889 in programs and services (9.9% increase). The projected $262,743,365 in proposed operating expenditures consists of about 87.1 percent salaries and related costs, 7.8 percent for programs and services, and 5.1 percent for utilities and maintenance.
Lexington District One administrators designed this budget to meet mandated expenditures without sufficient funds from the state to meet those mandated expenditures, to provide for continued student growth (projecting 562 new students), to meet state and federal requirements and to finance the district’s increased utilities, insurance, etc. costs due to annual inflation.
In addition, administrators set goals for this budget that include ensuring a quality education for students and support for staff, enhancing the district’s early childhood education, creating a pathway toward competitive teacher salaries, and investing in our employees through a one-week-long institute for first-year teachers, a mentor program for second- and third-year teachers and expanded leadership development programs.
The 2017–2018 general fund budget:
includes funding to meet state and federal mandates and requirements;
includes an increase to cover inflationary increases in utilities, insurance, supplies, etc.
includes 54 new staff positions to accommodate growth and reduces 16.5 elementary Digital Learning Coaches in an effort to prioritize class size, ensure manageable elementary student to teacher ratios and maintain the current student to teacher ratio formula per classroom on average (42.8 certified, 10.2 support staff, 1.0 administrative);
includes a 1% salary increase for all employees (about $1.7 million);
includes a step increase for most employees (about $3.4 million);
includes health and retirement increases (about $3.6 million);
includes an increase in the amount of money the district is paying for Lexington County School Safety Officers at elementary schools;
transfers allowable costs to capital funds;
budgets $7.8 million from fund balance ($500,000 more than last year); and
includes an 11.96 mill increase (about $3.1 million)
The state allows districts to increase millage by the Act 388 formula (the percent of growth in school district population and the CPI). For 2017–2018, that formula would allow this district to increase millage by 11.96 mills, and the district proposes adding those mills to fund the budget as it currently appears.
Since Act 388’s implementation in fiscal year 2007–2008, operating millage is not added to owner-occupied homes but is added to businesses, automobiles, etc. With an 11.96 mill increase, a Lexington One business owner with a business valued at $100,000 would see taxes increase about $72 ($100,000 X .06 percent assessment rate X additional mills). Each mill brings in about $259,294 in revenue to the district. Lexington One currently levies 305.99 mills for operations.
Lexington One’s capital millage (78.3 mills) is only five more mills than it was in 2008 when taxpayers approved the last bond referendum. Each year, because of the one-cent sales tax generated by the Lexington County School District Property Tax Relief Act, a portion of that 78.3 mills for school bonds taxes is offset by a tax credit meaning that no Lexington District One taxpayer pays the entire 78.3 mills, no matter what type of property tax.
In fact, a Lexington District One resident with an owner-occupied home valued at $100,000 pays about $117 a year in total school taxes of any kind (general fund and capital) on that home.