Fort Mill School District to vote on $92 million budget May 29

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 24, 2014 

— The Fort Mill school board will vote Thursday on a $92 million budget for 2014-15.

The proposal represents a 12 percent increase over the current budget.

The board held a public hearing last week to detail what’s proposed. Leanne Lordo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, laid out plans that include a six-mill tax increase and a $1.83 million transfer from contingency funds.

“If we did not propose a millage rate increase, over the next four years we would be facing a deficit of $7 million,” Lordo said.

The tax increase affects businesses, car and boat owners and owners of second homes and investment property. Primary residential property is not taxed by school districts.

The new budget projects increases in local, state and federal revenue totaling $7.74 million. It allocates $80.38 million for employee salaries and $6.85 million for operations.

“That’s 94 percent of our budget just in those two areas,” Lordo said.

Next year’s budget brings challenges requiring the dip into contingency funds. Currently, the district has about $14 million in contingency money. New funding needs include $2.91 million for 41 new classroom teachers. Previous years budgeted in the 20-25 range for new teachers.

“This is a much higher number for us to have to work into the budget,” Lordo said.

Another chunk of new funding is $2.45 to open Doby’s Bridge and Tega Cay elementary schools.

“We are opening two new elementary schools next year,” Lordo said. “That is challenging.”

Other additions are six special education teachers, football and band supplement positions, middle school athletic director stipends, a teacher evaluation coordinator, school psychologist, ELL teacher and high school support positions.

The board will take a final vote on the budget Thursday and amend it, if needed, in August. The local millage increase from 154.9 to 160.9 raises total millage to 276.4. Debt service (85.5) and countywide millage (30) remain unchanged.

Based on the most recent available data given to the board, per pupil spending in Fort Mill, which is consistently No. 1 in the state by all measurable standards, is the lowest in York County and falls below the state median. Lordo presented data from fiscal year 2012, showing Fort Mill at $7,789 per pupil below Clover ($10,098), York ($9,330), Rock Hill ($8,737) and the state ($9,010).

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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