Richland County School District One raises teacher pay, cuts funding for summer programs under new budget

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) ― Richland County School District One board members approved pay raises for the school’s teachers for next year that exceeded the state mandate of $47,000 this year.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, the district approved a third reading of the general fund, which includes an increase in teacher pay.

The finalized budget will increase the starting salary for teachers from $43,640 per year to $50,100 per year. As a result of this increase, each “cell” of a teacher’s salary will also increase by an average of 9%, according to a district news release.

Board members met for the first time Tuesday since the county rejected a request that would help fund the district’s budget for the upcoming school year. The school district was requesting the tax cap that would have provided the district with $22 million more than it received from the county last year by raising taxes.

It’s not just teachers who will get a raise. The budget also includes a step increase and a cost-of-living increase for eligible non-teaching Richland One employees.

The average salary of bus drivers in the district will also increase by more than 5% under this budget.

Richland One’s total budget is $409.2 million.

After the county rejected the district’s initial request, Richland One’s auditor made several changes to the budget, including a reduction of more than $300,000 in core English Language Arts (ELA) instructional resources and a reduction of more than $4 million in summer programs.

“We have made some adjustments based on the county’s third reading,” said Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. “I am pleased to say that we have been able to achieve a starting salary of $50,000. An average increase of 9% in the other boxes on the salary scale and an increase in non-teaching salaries as well.”

Other changes also include a $2 million decrease in salary supplements for teachers and non-teaching staff and a reduction.

These cuts reduced the district’s request to the county council by more than $6 million. The county still has to approve this budget before it is finalized.

Witherspoon said the board will have to review funding for supplements and summer programs in January.

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