District budget to go before council
Dorchester District Two “higher priorities,” according to input received at public budget meetings from parents, teachers and staff, include higher teacher salaries, higher salaries for classified staff, more teachers, more resource officers, high substitute teacher pay and more buses, Allyson Duke, director of business services, told the Board of Trustees at a budget workshop Monday.
Duke presented to the board the budget presentation that will be presented to the county council next Monday, May 20. The budget has no increase to the mil rate but also comes up about $1 million short.
The board approved the presentation to go to the council.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph Pye pointed out the Dorchester Two has the lowest per pupil expenditure as compared to Berkeley, Charleston, Richland 2 counties and the state average.
“If we got the same amount per child as Berkeley we would have $23.6 million more,” said Pye, “as Richland, $55 million more… .”
“We have no choice but to ask [for more money] we are the fastest growing district in the state. We are adding 500 students a year and not increasing costs…the last time we asked for money was for the 2009/2010 school budget…we haven't asked for anything since then,” said Pye.
“We are a sleeping giant, still consuming food but not generating funding [to pay for that food],” said Pye.
Pye iterated the many cuts the district has made and that although these are “good press” ultimately they hurt the students and the community.
“Our teachers and staff have stepped up and done what has to be done no matter the cuts,” he said proudly, “but we are losing so many experienced, solid teachers.”
Pye said new hires were young, new teachers and that while they were outstanding, the loss of experienced mentor teachers was damaging.
Pye is expected to ask the council to consider a mil rate increase or either 2.07 percent – which would generate $738,288 or 2.05 percent – which would generate $731,155. The district could also tap its fund balance.