Sumter School District budget nears final approval

Next year's plan, mill request moves on to county council

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 5/16/18

Sumter School District's Board of Trustees gave unanimous approval of the second reading Monday to the district's balanced budget for next school year and a 5.48-mill increase request it plans to ask Sumter County Council for later this …

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Sumter School District budget nears final approval

Next year's plan, mill request moves on to county council

Posted

Sumter School District's Board of Trustees gave unanimous approval of the second reading Monday to the district's balanced budget for next school year and a 5.48-mill increase request it plans to ask Sumter County Council for later this month.

Monday's regularly scheduled monthly board meeting at Chestnut Oaks Middle School served as the official public hearing on the 2018-19 budget.

Similar to what he did on April 30 at the first reading, district Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner initially presented a balanced $131,854,396 general fund budget to the board that doesn't include the millage request. However, that budget forecast does not include certain major goals the district would like to achieve next year, such as adding teachers in a long-term process to inch down student-teacher ratios and adding money to the fund balance next year after it is projected to be $6 million at the end of this fiscal year on June 30, 2018.

The 5.48-mill request - which translates to $1,057,121 in additional revenue from county taxes - would achieve some of those goals, according to Griner and Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm.

As opposed to the first reading of the budget and millage request two weeks ago, this time the administration pinpointed specific recommendations, or best overall choices, for use of the potential additional county funding. At the first reading, the administration listed expenditure items for the board to consider but didn't necessarily rank them by a level of need.

The recommendations include adding five teaching positions (valued at $400,000), a grant writer/development coordinator ($80,000), a technology project manager ($75,000) and making a $502,121 contribution to the fund balance in an effort to get the district closer to having one month's operating expenditures on hand. One month's operational expenses on the district's $131.8 million budget for next year translates to about $10.8 million.

If county council approves the request, the additional tax revenue would mainly affect commercial businesses and industries in Sumter and not home property owners, unless someone owns rental property.

Griner factored the millage increase on a commercial building valued at $100,000 to be about $22 in additional taxes per year.

District administration plans to present next year's budget to county council and ask for the 5.48-millage rate increase on May 29, Griner said. If council only approves a portion of the millage increase, then district administration and the school board would have to come back and rework its recommendations list to that lower value, he said.

The district plans to have third and final reading and adopt the budget at its next board meeting, scheduled for June 19. The state must approve the district's budget for next fiscal year by June 30, which is the last day of this fiscal year.