Last year, I'm sure most of you remember (if you are a resident of South Carolina), the residential property tax cut. The decrease in your property taxes was offset by a 1 cent sales tax increase. Historically, the portion of this property tax has been the most consistent revenue stream for the state. The portion of the property tax that was eliminated helped to support our school system and the sales tax increase was meant to replace the revenue from the property tax. In addition, the tax for food in grocery stores was also eliminated.
Dr. Keith Callicutt, Superintendent of the Fort Mill School District, spoke recently to the School Improvement Council at Orchard Park Elementary. He explained how the tax cut, which was part of Act 388, is now affecting our school district.
Due to the downturn in our economy, these cuts has caused a shortfall in the state budget. Fort Mill Schools have already experienced a loss of revenue of $838,000 and are expected to learn of 2-3 more cuts before the end of the school year.
Our legislators have developed a funding formula which actually benefits districts who are LOSING students more than it helps FAST GROWING districts like Fort Mill. Did you know that Fort Mill School District had a 10% growth rate last year? Fort Mill also has one of the lowest per pupil expenditures in the state, but year after year still continues to improve in measurements of student learning. Approximately 86% of the budget is designated for district salaries. 7% is used for fixed costs (utilities, insurance, transportation) and only about 7% is used to cover supplies, staff development and other expenses.
How will all of this impact our children? This year, only about 80% of the number of recommended teaching positions were hired. Continued shortfall means even fewer positions will be filled. The Fort Mill School District has always strove for a low pupil teacher ratio. The number of children per class will more than likely rise in the coming year. Some programs such as the Gifted and Talented program may lose state funding. Field trips could be reduced or eliminated, and more fees for extracurricular activities could occur.
If you would like to contact Legislature and let your opinion be known in regards to our state funding, you can log on to http://www.fort-mill.k12.sc.us. Click on parent information, click on legislative contacts. There you can find the addresses of delegation members.
You can also log on to my website at http://www.kellyacahill.com for other information about the Fort Mill School District.