District-wide pay increase, renovations proposed in Florence One budget

FSD1 talks proposed budget

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A district-wide pay increase and millions of dollars in building renovations are just some of the things included in the proposed budget for Florence School District One.

Superintendent Dr. Richard O'Malley recently presented the $154 million plan during a school board meeting.

“Dr. O’Malley’s proposed budget is absolutely incredible,” Robin Bowman, a special education teacher, said.

Bowman said she’s just one of hundreds of teachers raving about the new proposed funding.

"Their [teachers’] response has been overwhelmingly positive and excited about it," she said

Under the plan, every district employee will get a 5% pay raise, in addition to a step pay increase for teachers. Sixty-six new staff positions will also be funded, including 10 special education positions and four school-based therapists.

It's something Florence resident Carrie Kahn said has been a main concern for education in the state.

"It's a great start to have a mental health counselor at every school,’ Kahn said. “That's a huge win for what the rally asked for."

Approximately $78 million of the budget will go toward school programs. Smartboards will also be replaced at every elementary school and added to all of the middle schools.

“The arts are included for students, the academics are included for students, children with special needs are included,” Bowman said.

Resurfaced gym floors and athletic fields, along with carpet and HVAC replacements, are a few of the improvements included within the proposed budget.

Kahn, who voted for the referendum in February, said while it’s not the $198 million requested, it’s a start.

"We got to start somewhere and address some of the safety concerns, HVAC units. Living in the South it's hard to teach in those," Kahn said.

"The emphasis on people is something that makes being a teacher here different. That’s what makes someone feel valued,” Bowman said.

The second and final reading for approval on the budget is June 13.

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