Aiken County School Board approves 2018-19 budget on first reading
WAGENER — Step increases for all employees and a 2 percent cost of living adjustment will be included in the Aiken County Public School District’s 2018-19 budget if adopted in May.
The Aiken County School Board unanimously approved the proposed budget on first reading Tuesday at its regular meeting at Wagener-Salley High School.
The $305.3 million budget is a $2.8 million increase over this year’s budget. The budget will not require a change in millage rates, Tray Traxler, the district’s chief officer of finance, told the board.
Traxler highlighted other other budget items as follows:
• Staffing each elementary school with a minimum of one full-time guidance counselor, impacting four schools
• Funding for high school fine arts programs
• Creating four English-as-a-second-language positions
• Adding five days for four homebound teachers, increasing to 195 days
• Adding five days for transportation supervisors, increasing to 225 days
• Creating six new custodial positions at Aiken High School and North Augusta High School
• Staffing each middle school with a safety monitor, creating eight positions
• Funding for additional technology specialist
• Implementing the first and final phase of the service credit program.
The district will advertise the budget in the newspaper by April 23 and hold a budget hearing May 8. The School Board is expected to adopt the budget May 22.
The board also heard updates on construction projects at Aiken High School and North Augusta High School.
At Aiken High, construction has begun on the Phase 2B addition, including footings for the new band, choral, culinary and NJROTC wing behind the new administration building. Substantial construction should be complete by April 1, 2019.
At North Augusta High, work has begun on the Phase 2B addition and should be complete by Nov. 1.
In other business, the board unanimously approved the district’s recommendation to use external legal services to replace William Burkhalther, the district’s in-house attorney, who is retiring.
The board approved Halligan Mahoney & Williams, a law firm in Columbia, to provide legal services for the district. The firm’s website lists school law and special education as two of its specialties.