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Board receives update on new state funding metric, considerations impacting FY 2022-2023

Published Tuesday, March 22, 2022

At the Tuesday evening regular meeting of the Berkeley County Board of Education, board members received an update regarding the new state funding metric and funding considerations included in the state’s new plan. The new funding formula, outlined in the Ways and Means FY 2023 annual appropriations budget, takes all new funds for education and applies them to a new formula that creates a metric called the State Aid to Classrooms Program Allocation. The State Aid to Classrooms Program Allocation replaces the former base student cost metric. The new formula establishes a 75/25 percent split of the calculated statewide cost based on a weighted per pupil count and the local district’s index of taxpaying ability (ITA).

The new formula is based on the number of teachers required to attain a statewide student teacher ratio of 11.2:1. This is a ratio used to determine a funding allocation and is not an indication that individual teacher classrooms will meet an 11.2:1 ratio. The following positions are included in the state’s funding calculation:

  • Classroom Teachers, Special Education, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Retired Teachers, Library Media Specialists/Librarians, Guidance Counselors, Speech Therapists, ROTC Instructors, School Nurses, Occupational/Physical Therapists, Orientation/Mobility Instructors, Audiologists, Social Workers, and Psychologists

“School resource officers, instructional coaches, and other personnel necessary to operate schools and districts were not included in the state’s calculations,” said BCSD Chief Financial Officer Ashley Smith. 

Ms. Smith also shared that the new plan has been widely misreported to include funding for a $4,000 raise for teachers; however, the proviso clearly states that districts paying in excess of the state minimum (increased from approximately $36,000 to $40,000), such as BCSD, may use its allocation at its discretion. The increase described in the plan is a $4,000 increase to the state teacher salary schedule, and not an increase for each individual teacher across the state. BCSD’s minimum salary for teachers with zero years of experience is $40,987. 

“The plan also includes an increase in the minimum bus driver salary schedule by 5%,” said Ms. Smith. “This increase is based on the state’s salary schedule, which starts drivers at approximately $8 an hour. BCSD’s salary schedule starts at $16 an hour. The funding currently proposed by the state will not fully support an increase for BCSD teachers or bus drivers.”

Districts are also faced with budgeting for an 18.1% employer health care contribution and a mandated 1% for the employer portion of retirement. Under the new funding formula, BCSD will receive a total of $4,347,834 from the state. The following illustrates the projected impact on Berkeley County Schools:

  • BCSD share of state funding formula: $4,347,834
  • Cost of $4,000 raise + fringe benefits for all teachers: $15,729,120
    • Shortfall: $11,381,286
  • $4000 pay raise + fringe benefits + annual step increase: $19,708,332
    • Shortfall: $15,360,497
  • $4,000 pay raise + fringe + annual step increase + proposed 18.1% employer contribution increase to health care premium + 1% employer contribution increase to retirement: $22,816,845 
    • Shortfall: $18,469,011

“While we understand the noble intent behind the new metric, to provide more equitable funding to districts with limited local taxpaying ability, it is important that we explain the new metric and share the information we have received with our Board and public as we work to develop a budget that meets the educational needs of our students and staff,” said BCSD Superintendent Deon Jackson. “While the state has provided local boards with the flexibility to determine how to use their share of state funding, we are limited in our ability to address adequate and competitive pay for our employees as was discussed this evening.”

BCSD’s FY 2021-2022 general fund budget totaled $339,049,395 million dollars. This year, the District’s general fund budget is estimated to be $359,956,528 million dollars. Teacher and school staff compensation accounts for over  70% of the general fund budget.

The Board also received results from the district’s recent operational assessment which identified that district office staffing is currently at a 9-year low (2020 and 2021) even though students, schools, teachers, and the general fund have all experienced significant growth. The consultant firm, Mauldin & Jenkins, described the district office as “operating lean.” More information on the operational assessment can be found here.