Beaufort County school board begins to talk budget

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 21, 2012 

  • Jo Shirley, principal of Port Royal Elementary School, was named the principal of Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary School, effective next school year. Shanklin's current principal, Mark Mansell, will move to Robert Smalls Middle School as an assistant principal overseeing fifth and sixth grade.

  • Shirley's appointment was approved unanimously.

    The district has said Shanklin's student achievement has not progressed as quickly as similar schools. Applicants for the principal position had to present a plan to boost student achievement.

    • Approved applications for partial reimbursement of telecommunications services through a federal program. The submission of the applications was approved on a 10-0-1 vote; Steven Morello abstained.
  • Get breaking news, story updates and interesting reflections on Lowcountry schools by following Homeroom on Twitter.

As decision time draws near for the Beaufort County School District's budget, the school board is beginning to talk priorities.

At Tuesday's board meeting, five guidelines were discussed that the board agrees should direct staff as the 2012-13 budget is prepared. No formal vote was taken on the guidelines.

The guidelines, drafted by board chairman Fred Washington Jr., are:

  • If salary increases are made, they should first be given to "classified" staff, such as secretaries.

  • About four years ago, the board approved salary increases for all district employees with the exception of classified staff. Putting them first in line would be righting that wrong, Washington said.

    Classroom teachers would be considered for raises next, followed by certified staff members and then district administrators.

    Board member Steven Morello said he disagreed that raises for classified staff should take precedence over raises for teachers, but vice chairman George Wilson said classified staff have been overlooked.

    "This group has been slighted during that four-year period more than any other group," Wilson said.

  • The board wants to avoid eliminating any program or position that is helping close the student achievement gap.

  • The board will consider no longer paying new National Board certification applicants bonuses.

  • The credential, which is one of the highest available in teaching, allows teachers to earn an extra $5,000 to $7,500 a year from the state and $1,334 a year from the district for ten years.

    There are 139 National Board certified teachers currently working in the district.

  • The board may consider developing a merit pay plan for teachers and other staff over the next two years.

  • Washington urged resolution of an ongoing dispute between the school district and the county over the New River tax-increment finance district. The district believes it has been shorted about $20 million in the last 10 years due to problems implementing the TIF.

  • Board member Bill Evans said reducing the number of students in each class should also be a priority.

    Washington stressed that the guidelines are not meant to be comprehensive. More detailed discussion of the budget will take place at a full-day work session March 30. County council's first reading of the school district budget is scheduled for May 7.

    In other budget news, it's likely the district will have to continue spending reserve funds next year, district operations chief Phyllis White said.

    If the district keeps its budget flat at $174 million, about $3.2 million in reserves will be needed, White said.

    Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

    Related content

    1. 12 Beaufort County teachers earn national certification; Dec. 7, 2011
    2. School district asks County Council for compromise on tax district; Jan. 9, 2012
    3. Two district principals would have to reapply to keep their jobs next year; Dec. 9, 2011

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