By Ruben Lowman
Teachers, nurses, athletics coaches and faculty members of schools throughout the county may see an increase to their paychecks come August.
Horry County Schools (HCS) officials brought forward their proposed budget for the next school year, 2022-23, at a board meeting on Monday, May 9, where they outlined the possible pay raises for employees of the school system. Several other potential projects were discussed, as well as the main sources of revenue the burgeoning school system will be using to fund them all.
Overall, HCS officials proposed a total budget of over $890 million for 2022-23, which includes more than $522 million in the general fund. Officials said they also expect an increase of nearly 600 new students within the district.
Most notably, the proposed budget would see raises for teachers, nurses, athletics coaches, bus drivers, and nearly all faculty members, but they would be distributed a bit differently. County officials also noted they were evaluating the ongoing budget negotiations between state lawmakers in Columbia to proceed with an exact idea of how much the state will contribute towards the salary increases.
Some of the budget’s finer details were discussed by HCS Chief Financial Officer John Gardner. With their current plan, officials expect teachers and nurses at Horry schools to get a $2,000 raise, with bus drivers receiving an approximate increase of 5%, Gardner said. Additionally, a two percent raised was in the proposal for all regular employees of schools in the district.
HCS Athletics Director Jason Cox said that the district will be looking to include more than $1 million to help pay for supplements to coaches’ salaries that will be included over the next four years throughout the county. Cox said this will be done to ensure the district remains competitive with other school systems.
He also said that after this year, HCS would begin to strengthen their overall number of coaches, highlighting that they will be looking to hire more assistant coaches for varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams. Cox noted this would be done so the school’s will essentially have a feeder system in place, both for students and coaches.
Former HCS employees will also see a possible increase in their retirement rate, as well as a possible boost to their group health insurance.
A handful of major projects would see the green light with the approval of the budget.
They include nearly $5 million that would be used to fund the ongoing construction of artificial turf fields for high school stadiums in the district, which includes North Myrtle Beach and Green Sea High, which would see the installation of both of their new football fields during the upcoming school year. Loris High received their new turf field this spring and will be set to start next year playing on their new state of the art field.
More than $11 million would be used to fund a regional parking lot for the county’s school buses; $3 million would be used to construct and improve elementary school playgrounds; and over $3 million would be set aside for the district’s classroom and laptop initiative to improve access to computers and the internet for students.
Officials also went over the funding sources for their revenues, with the majority being derived from property taxes. The county will see an increase of more than $9 million to their coffers, as more people have moved here and more houses have been built.
Board members said they will discuss the budget over the next week and notify the public of their budget hearing, which they hope to receive initial approval by May 23. On June 6, the district will hold a public hearing and approval of the budget.