Preparing for the unknown: Upstate school districts discuss budgets pending recommendations from Accelerate ED

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A year of great uncertainty. That’s what some upstate superintendents are saying about the upcoming school year.

Tightening the purse strings. That’s the case for a lot of upstate school districts which are already operating on the state’s continuing resolution. That means the funding levels from last year are rolling over and will be the same this school year.

A typical summer scene, kids running and jumping on the playground.

But as the swings begin to slow, school leaders are speeding up preparations for a not so typical year. Same goes for parents.

“I know they like school but at the same time, I’m looking to protect them,” said Spartanburg Father, Adrian McCluney.

“They’re used to being home now, being at home and the virtual learning and I think integrating them back in with social distancing is going to be difficult,” said Mom of two, Heather Martin who is new to the Spartanburg area.

Regardless of what the classroom will look like, school leaders across the upstate told 7 News, they’ve been preparing for the financial implications of the virus.

“Our budget writers were able to trim about $55 million in change out of the total budget in anticipation of a downturn in revenue,” said Director of Media Relations with Greenville County Schools, Tim Waller.

Tim Waller with Greenville County Schools told us they’ve worked with lean budgets before, like during the 2007-2009 recession.

It’s something all schools across the state are facing.

“If we had an issue where a lot of the district dipped enrollment for one year because of coronavirus, then the funding for the following year dipped and then all the students came back, that would be an issue,” said Spokesperson with Pickens County Schools, John Eby.

Pickens County Schools are offering an online schooling option. A lot of other schools are waiting to hear recommendations from state leaders about how to safely teach kids before making any final decisions.

School leaders in Laurens told us they’re dealing with pretty much the same thing, staying on a tight budget. However they told us the next issue they’re focused on is figuring out safe transportation. That’s getting kids on and off the bus and into the building while also social distancing.

The Accelerate ED Task Force is working on a final draft of recommendations. That’s expected to be released Friday.

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