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Schools staff finds $3 million for budget

District pulls from savings, stretches estimates to meet needs

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The Charleston County School District is expected to take a $2 million dip into its savings account to help balance this year's budget. The district started the new fiscal year on July 1 $3 million short of projected expenditures.

Late last month, the board refused a budget proposal that would have balanced tax hikes for increased operating costs by deferring construction payments. Instead, a majority of the board voted for an operating budget with no tax increase, requiring some creativity from the district staff in meeting spending needs. The district's $318 million budget is $5 million less than last year's, and there's still the $3 million in expenditures the district hasn't accounted for yet.

In a proposal that will go before the board tonight, Finance Director Michael Bobby will recommend that the board support spending up to $2 million from the district's reserve account. The district will try to minimize the raid on the savings by reviewing personnel costs, magnet and special needs transportation, and any school budget that increased from last year.

Bobby is also adjusting expectations for delinquent tax collections, estimating another $1 million to even the budget out. Chairwoman Toya Hampton Green says she's concerned about the district stretching formerly conservative estimates to fit budget needs. With continued cuts in state support, she says it may lead to furloughs early in the school year.

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