Dear Team Rock Hill,

Much of my first year as Superintendent has been spent listening to different stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and various community groups. The year-long listen and learn series has provided an opportunity for our teachers, students, administrators, and members of our community to share questions and concerns as well as to request additional support in the areas of student safety, teacher recruitment and retention, student achievement, organizational culture, and communications. It has been refreshing and encouraging to participate in each discussion; the passion for improving each area is strong and we look forward to growing as One Team on One Mission for One Rock Hill.

Recently, Chief Financial Officer Mrs. Terri Smith provided a preview of the proposed budget during the May 21 Budget Listen and Learn. I appreciate those who were able to be in attendance, and those who have watched the presentation in the days since. In the presentation, the following highlights were shared:

  • Rock Hill Schools will increase beginning teacher salaries to $39,899,
  • Rock Hill Schools will raise all teacher salaries at least 4% above the 2018-2019 district salary scale, and salaries for eligible teachers will include a one year experience “step” (Note: All new salary scales will be published on our website once approved by the Board of Trustees on June 24.),
  • Rock Hill Schools will increase all other employee salaries 4% and include a one year “step” for eligible employees,
  • Rock Hill Schools will add new positions to address safety and security, recruitment and retention, and student achievement,
  • Rock Hill Schools will increase funding to support student tutoring programs,
  • Rock Hill Schools will increase all athletic supplements by 5%,
  • Rock Hill Schools will increase all other supplements by 5%, and
  • Rock Hill Schools will request a maximum millage increase of 6 mills.

Additionally, to better position Rock Hill Schools in recruiting math, science, and special education classroom teachers, new hires in each of these areas will be paid a $500 signing bonus. Further, we will be paying retention bonuses to all employees for your commitment to  Rock Hill Schools. All certified staff will be awarded a $1,000 bonus, and all support staff will be awarded a $500 bonus. Retention bonuses will be paid by the end of first semester in Fall 2019.

The proposed $169.4 million budget has been developed to reflect feedback received throughout the year. Requests identified from the stakeholder groups exceeded $16 million. With combined revenue sources from the state of South Carolina and local tax revenues, we simply cannot generate enough money to fulfill each identified need and all wants. Therefore, our priorities in developing the proposed 2019-2020 budget were: safety and security, recruitment and retention, and student achievement. Even by narrowing our priorities, we will not have enough to fund all we hope and wish for but we must keep pushing forward and ensure we are being good stewards of the monies we have. We believe this budget addresses and improves safety and security, enhances recruitment and retention, and continues a focus on student achievement through reducing class sizes in specialized settings, opportunities for tutoring, and other focus.

Next month, the budget will be presented for public input and to the Board of Trustees on June 10 at 5:30 p.m. The Board will vote on the proposed budget at its business meeting on June 24 at 6 p.m. If you have any feedback, please complete this survey.

I am confident that after your review of our proposed budget, it is clear that our focus for 2019-2020 is on our students and staff. Thank you for being part of our One Team on One Mission for One Rock Hill.

Bill Cook,