The Berkeley County School Board approved its budget for the 2019-2020 school year on June 25, the final meeting of the school year.
The budget has increased by nearly $30 million from $292,586,856 in the 2018-2019 budget to $322,330,676.
The new budget was met with applause from those in attendance and praise from the school board members. Board chair Sally Wofford called the new budget a step in the right direction and said it showed their commitment to students and the community.
"This is a very fair budget that says we are committed to the tax payer as well," Wofford said.
The budget increase has allowed the school district to pursue the hiring of more faculty and staff for many of the schools in the district. The district is working toward lowering the student to teacher ratio from 27:1 to 21:1. This will mean the district will hire 25 new teachers.
Wofford said that it was important for the board to focus on the measures needed to give more one-on-one focus to students in the classroom.
The district will hire eight more mental health counselors and two more social workers in addition to the 14 counselors and nine social workers. The district will add 39 assistants for self-contained classrooms.
Every elementary and middle school with more than 500 students will now be able to hire a bookkeeper. This will add 31 more employees to the district.
"Its well over due but its an opportunity for us to show that fiscal affairs do matter and we're doing everything we can at the local level, at the school level to make sure that transparency is evident and we're doing everything we can for the kids," said David Barrow, board member.
Barrow said he hopes schools will be able to have a bookkeeper regardless of size in the near future.
Wofford said the board will focus on reducing class sizes in the third grade next year and that the goal for student to teacher ratio is 17:1.
All employees will also receive a 6 percent pay raise in addition to the STEP.
Teachers will also receive a $100 stipend for class supplies from the district as well.