The intricacies of progressing forward with the Laurens County School District 56 budget for 2019-20 involve a fair amount of thinking the way the General Assembly thinks, as the state budget has not passed yet in Columbia.

The board held a called meeting – as opposed to regularly scheduled – on Wednesday night to review the school budget on first reading.

It is no small task. It is no small amount of money. What passed unanimously did not reach that preliminary stage without ample deliberation at the Clinton High School board meeting. The estimated expenditures are $26,605,508. The estimated revenue is the same, though the board hopes to find $110,000 to alleviate a bus-driver shortage and technology replacement.

As uncertain the path between state and district, it was more so last year.

District 56 expects to raise – and spend – $1,429,922, or 5.68 percent, more because the state has set aside additional funding for a 4 percent raise in teacher salaries and a minimum salary of $35,000.

Finance Director Susan Flanagan said that, by her best estimate, the district will have about $200,000 left over at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year, less than the approximately $1 million of the current budget.

All of the above having duly been analyzed by the board, Flanagan, superintendent Dr. David O’Shields and operations assistant superintendent Dr. David Pitts, what passed on first reading left a budget balanced with no increase in operating mills (167.50) for the sixth consecutive year. The last increase was in 2013-14.

The district’s unique equalization formula between districts 55 and 56 currently trends in the Clinton-centered district’s favor. The amount is estimated to increase from over $93,000 to about $120,000. The figure can change in any given year based on the way the formula falls.

Teachers and other employees will receive 4 percent raises. The administrative scale is a 1 percent raise. The base-salary increase will cost $563,414.

Another area of uncertainty is the opening of the Thornwell charter school, which will cost the district a projected 60 students.

A master’s program – to aid in recruiting teachers and maintaining them – is being established with USC Upstate to enroll 25 teachers at a cost or $28,000.

After the public meeting, the board retired to executive session to discuss employment matters.

The regularly scheduled May board meeting will be held in the Clinton High auditorium, as opposed to the professional development room (PDR), on Monday, May 20, a 7:30 p.m.