FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence One Schools Board of Trustees has approved the 2019-20 budget, the outsourcing of food services and the continuation of sharing services with Florence School District Four.
The actions came at a board meeting Monday that ran late into the night.
The board of trustees also voted for new officers during the meeting. Porter Stewart will be chairman, succeeding Barry Townsend, who was elected vice chairman to succeed Trisha Caulder. Artie Buxton will take Stewart's place as secretary.
The nearly $157 million budget includes a 5% raise and step increase for all district employees, including stipends, according to the district’s budget proposal.
The approved budget also consists of a $1.5 million investment in textbooks, the completion of the Imagine Forward initiative, an initiative that began in fall 2018 to provide each student with a technology device, replacing elementary Smartboards, adding Smartboards to middle schools.
According to the budget proposal, the 2019-20 budget will not increase the millage or the district’s spending. The budget will create 66 new positions within the district and shift more money into the classrooms and staff.
The Florence One Schools board also approved the outsourcing of food services for both Florence One and Florence School District Four to a Charlotte, N.C.- based company, Chartwells.
Superintendent Richard O’Malley said Chartwells places students first with how it approaches providing meals.
O’Malley said Chartwells is guaranteeing the district about $750,000 in profit. The district has been losing nearly $1 million per year.
According to the Chartwells business proposal executive summary, the company will invest $215,000 in employee training and uniforms.
Prior to the approval the outsourcing of food service management, several food service workers expressed concerns about the state of their jobs during board of trustees meetings; however, with the outsourcing of food services management, Chartwells will retain all employees currently on the School Food Authority’s payroll, O’Malley said.
O’Malley said through using the food service company, the district will have better staff training.
“I think we are going to get efficiencies, we are going to get better food, better choices, better menus and better opportunities for our students and our staff to grow along with a company,” O’Malley said.
Florence One Schools also approved a one-year memorandum of agreement to continue sharing services with Florence School District Four. The two districts have been sharing services since July 1, 2018.
This year’s memorandum of agreement has not changed from last year's agreement, which included special education, human resources, financial operations, general operations and food services.
Florence One Schools will receive 3.75% of all revenues of all funds received by Florence School District Four in the 2019-20 school year, or no less than $384,013, the agreement said.