Todd Garrett explains CCSD budget fiasco

Todd Garrett explains CCSD budget fiasco
July 13 22:08 2016 Print This Article
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Todd Garrett

In an exclusive interview with radio host Kelly Golden (94.3 WSC), Charleston County School Board member Todd Garrett explained how the school district ran an $18 million deficit in the 2014-5 fiscal year.  The school district  overestimated property tax revenue by $9 million and over-spent $9 million.  You can hear the 15-minute interview on this link:  http://943wsc.iheart.com/onair/kelly-golden-15841/943-wsc-goes-in-depth-as-14853996/.

Garrett noted that school district officials never checked with the Charleston County Auditor’s office to track property tax revenue coming in.  The School Board did not become aware of the shortfall until nearly three months after the fiscal year closed out June 30, 2015.  Nine school district employees have either been fired or resigned as the result of the budget fiasco.

Charleston County School District’s $429 million annual operating budget is 27% greater than Greenville County’s even though it has nearly 30,000 fewer students enrolled.   The educational achievement in Charleston County is abysmal, with 84% of African-American students reading below grade level at the end of third grade.

A forensic audit conducted by the Columbia firm Elliott, Davis and DeCosimo revealed some of the budgeting practices resulting in the shortfall, including submitting budgets for electricity and printing well below previous annual costs, excessive numbers of assistant  principals in many schools and heavy utilization of consultants.

Garrett says systems are in place to prevent future shortfalls, including detailed monthly budget reports broken down by line item, a $1 million reduction in central office staff salaries,  reduction in the number of assistant principals and the cancellation of an elementary school literacy program that wasn’t effective.  There was also a tax increase on commercial property of about $100 for a $250,000 property.