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District 56 passes $25 million budget, no tax hike

After waiting for the South Carolina State Legislature to finalize its education budget, the Laurens District 56 Board of Trustees approved its own budget on second and final reading Monday at its regular meeting.

The balanced budget of $25,175,586 for the 2018-19 fiscal year is an increase of $794,090 (3.257 percent) over last year’s budget, but will require no millage increase for local residents. District 56 has not increased operating mills since 2013-14.

“For our taxpayers, that’s one of the things we wanted to highlight,” said District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields. “We feel like we have a duty to our constituents to be good stewards of their tax dollars.”

The budget includes several new positions, including a school resource officer for Joanna-Woodson Elementary School. The SRO will be provided by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and funded at around $57,000 by District 56.

“It’s our farthest school from us,” O’Shields said. “We can no longer go on what you thing and hope won’t happen.”

The increase in revenue will also allow the district to add positions for the 4K program in physical education, fine arts and “wraparound” services to increase enrollment.

O’Shields said the 4K program has proven to be popular and effective.

He said district administrators are also looking to add a position at Clinton Middle School to decrease class sizes in math or language arts.

An additional $75,000 was also included to increase after-school programs in the district.

“That’s a big one,” O’Shields said.

Another $50,000 line item in the budget will pay for Response to Intervention services at elementary schools and the middle school. The services will aid teachers with students prior to placing them in special-education tracks.

“It’s an effort to meet the needs of students who are struggling with our existing accommodations and provide other accommodations for them,” O’Shields said. “We want to lower the number of students in our special-ed classrooms.”


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