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      Horry County Board of Ed approves second pay increase for staff and raises sub rate

      Horry County Board of Education approves second reading for pay increases. / Lindsey Theis

      The Horry County Board of Education learned Monday night they have more than $8 million dollars extra.

      "It seems liked we were in dire straights as recent as March with a $17 million shortfall," Neil James said.

      The 2011-2012 school board budget process, which began in January 2011, started with Finance Director Jeff Riddle bracing school board members for a $19.2 million shortfall.

      By the end of the budget process, the board closed that gap with spending cuts and found out they would be receiving more money for new students entering the district. They also approved a millage swap to cover the projected shortfall. In addition, Horry County is gaining more money than expected from state coffers.

      "They're finding money somewhere at the state level. What we're seeing now with state revenues it's tending to trend up," said Jon Gardener, Executive Director of Finance.

      Gardener told the board that the South Carolina state legislature gave allocated Horry County schools $77.7 million, that is up from the $69.6 million they had budgeted for. The district also ended the year with a $1 million dollar surplus, totaling $8.7 million in extra cash.

      Superintendent Cynthia Elsberry reccommended a STEP increase, costing $3.2 million. A one percent cost of living increase for all employees totaling $2.4 million, adding one literacy interventionist teaching position at every school costing $2.8 million, and adding one literacy interventionist teaching position at every school costing $2.8 million.

      The total package would have cost $8.725 million Elsberry said.

      "It is well deserved. We have downsized by more than 300 people when i arrived. We've asked people to do one and a half, two, three jobs, and do less than more," said Elsberry.

      The board approved the STEP increase, the cost of living increase, and a substitute teacher pay rate increase. That totaled $5.925 million.

      This is the second step increase the board has approved this year. Board Vice Chair Joe DeFeo says it's justified because the board had gone two years without giving teachers the state required pay-scale raises.

      "There's a very good possibility that the state, in the long run, {would} eventually order us to give them back. So having cut another $15 million this year we have the money to give them back. We feel it's fiscally prudent to give them back this year," he said.