Tough decisions loom for Horry Co. Schools

Horry County, SC - HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Budget shortfalls have tested the limits of South Carolina's school systems, and now members of the Horry County School Board are trying to figure out how to make ends meet with $11 million less in funding from the state.

The problem was expected to be at the forefront of Monday evening's Horry County School Board meeting; however, a preliminary analysis of the Horry County School District's operating costs revealed pockets of money that could take the district's budget out of the red.

Jeff Riddle, chief finance and human resource officer for Horry County Schools, estimates the district will have $500,000 left over in the 2010-2011 budget. Riddle says the discovery came after leafing through the district's budget and taking into account unfilled positions, staff retirement and cut programs. However, out of a $300,000,000 budget, Riddle says the surplus isn't that much.

"We're not fine tuning each item, and we're finding some of the cost that we're estimating aren't' what they are," Riddle explained. "I believe, based on a quick look at those numbers, that we will be in the black about $500,000."

While a multitude of solutions have been proposed by board leaders, Horry County Schools spokeswoman Teal Britton says officials are still considering a recommendation to cut more than 120 positions. Britton says the goal of the cuts is not to prompt layoffs, but rather to reposition employees throughout the district.

"It may mean you're not doing the same exact thing or doing it in the same exact place," Britton explained. "Barring any performance issues, it is our goal to keep everyone employed at the same time, looking at the overall health of the system and our commitment to service of the students."

Officials did not move forward nor comment on talks of job cuts at Monday's meeting. The issue is expected to be addressed at a later date.

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