The Aiken County School Board unanimously approved the 2019-20 budget for Aiken County Public Schools on May 28 and added one day to the school calendar before classes start to give teachers and staff more time to prepare for the year.

But the board pulled an agenda item that would have approved revisions to the “Code of Student Conduct” to define more clearly changes to the dress code regarding how leggings can be worn by middle and high school students.

The final budget includes items, including a 4% cost of living adjustment and eligible step raises for teachers and staff, the board approved on first reading April 23.

Additions to the budget include funding 18 full-time media aides. The first-reading version of the budget had funded nine media aides in the 2019-20 budget and would have funded the other nine in 2020-21.

“This would ensure that that all middle schools and all elementary schools have a full-time media aide in their media center. We were able to bring that forward instead of waiting another year,” said Tray Traxler, the district's chief finance officer, before the board voted.

The final budget also includes $25,000 for supplies for recruitment and retention of teachers.

“We've added $25,000 to the budget for supplies for those welcome-type items for new hires,” Traxler said.

The total budget is $305,557,050, with $205,401,324 going to the general fund, which includes salaries and benefits.

District Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford requested adding one day to the beginning of the school year in August.

“We want to try to provide an extra day for schools and teachers as we get ready for the start of school,” he said. “We will try to move all of our district functions to one day and give schools and teachers an additional day at the start of the school year.”

Alford also asked to Board to pull the agenda item concerning how leggings can be worn in the proposed revisions to the dress code for middle and high schools in the “Code of Student Conduct.”

The board approved the revisions on first reading May 11.

During public participation, a mother and her daughter, an eighth grader at Kennedy Middle School, asked the board to allow girls to wear leggings if “their bottoms” are covered.

Alford said the "verbiage does not restrict leggings."

"It actually says that leggings cannot be worn with an inappropriate shirt or skirt,” he said. “It's not a restriction to leggings, but there's obviously some confusion in that regard; so I want to make sure that we have the wording the way the community can understand it. We don't want to vote on something that is not well understood by the community.”

The proposed revision to the dress code approved on first reading reads as follows: “Leggings, jeggings, tights, thermal tights, compression pants/compression shorts and tights worn as pants or underneath an inappropriate skirt.”

The board will consider new revisions to the dress code regarding leggings at its meeting June 11.

In other business, the board also voted unanimously to cancel the June 25 meeting.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.