Post Tagged with: "school funding"

Change or Status Quo in S.C. House District 55

June 4, 2018 7:26 AM
Change or Status Quo in S.C. House District 55

Dillon County Council member Jack Scott is fighting an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination for S.C. House District 55.

Scott is taking on a 20 year incumbent politician in rural South Carolina, never an easy task. In taking on incumbent Jackie Hayes, Scott is also fighting a highly successful coach and athletic director who has brought considerable success to the Dillon High School football teams in over a quarter of a century as head coach.

Scott advocates giving voters the opportunity to elect members of the Dillon County School Board. Currently, the board is appointed by the governor, often on recommendations from the Dillon County Legislative Delegation which consists currently of Rep. Hayes, Rep. Lucas Atkinson, Sen. Kent Williams and Sen. Greg Hembree.

In 2010, Dillon County residents voted overwhelmingly in an advisory referendum to change the school board members from being appointed by the governor to being elected by the voters – 6,071 Yes votes for elected members to 737 No votes.

Being only an advisory referendum, the results were not binding and nothing has changed. The board is still appointed against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of voters.

Dillon County spends the lowest dollars per pupil in the state of South Carolina, the only county where less than $10,000 per pupil is spent in a combination of local, state and federal funds. Part of the problem is the local tax base is almost non-existent, but the state share to Dillon County is lower than most other school districts in the state.

Maybe an elected school board will not change things for Dillon County students, but it is obvious the current system is not working and a majority of voters expressed a desire for the change.

Scott has also said he will work to improve the crumbling infrastructure in Dillon County, something that will require an infusion of state dollars to help. Those dollars have been slow in coming from the current Legislative Delegation.

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Déjà vu for SC General Assembly

December 29, 2015 5:17 AM
Déjà vu for SC General Assembly

In November 2014, when everyone was talking about the upcoming SC General Assembly legislative session, three big topics were at the fore, ethics reform, transportation maintenance and repair funding and education funding.

One year later, as preparations are made for the second session of the 121st General Assembly, those three topics are still waiting to be addressed.

Real ethics reform falls into three areas – disclosure of all sources of income for members and their immediate families, disclosure of donor sources in these currently anonymous PACs and an independent process for ethics violation investigations.

Under our current ethics system, the House and Senate have ethics committees that essentially do nothing, and the SC Ethics Commission, which covers all other public officials throughout the state, specializes in collecting fines for late filing of disclosure documents.

All three areas have strong resistance, especially in the Senate, so expect another year where ethics is talked about much and accomplished not at all.

In the area of transportation maintenance and repair or general infrastructure funding, one lesson should have been learned with the floods of October – you can only ignore maintenance and repair of necessary infrastructure for so long.

When old, neglected infrastructure is hit with unusual conditions, it will fail. Some of the flood damage we saw would have happened anyway, but dams failing, bridges collapsing and roads washing out were as much a consequence of neglect as it was from the storm.

School funding, or rather equitable funding for poor, rural school districts is a subject that has been effectively dodged in one way or another since the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954.

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SC General Assembly and School Funding

October 22, 2015 4:44 AM
Travis Bell Photographers

The SC General Assembly is trying to make a constitutional crisis out of last year’s SC Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

SC House Speaker Jay Lucas and SC Senate President pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman filed a motion earlier this week with the SC Supreme Court requesting reconsideration of the Court’s November 2014 finding.

The finding stated the SC General Assembly was not providing enough funding for the poorer school districts in the state for even the ‘minimally adequate education’ called for by the state Constitution.

The main thrust of the motion was revealed in a press release by Speaker Lucas issued Monday:

“Arbitrary deadlines that seek to hijack the legislative process and meaningless approval from an unrealistic super-panel will not reform South Carolina’s education delivery system. Achieving actual improvement requires extensive study and input from those most familiar with the issues.

“The Court’s attempt to overstep its judicial authority further complicates the lawmaking process. More importantly, it negates the significant progress made by the House Education Task Force over the last ten months. Every child in every part of our state deserves access to a 21st century education. Because we must preserve the diligent work already completed by our task force, we think it is imperative that the Supreme Court vacate their most recent order and remove itself from the legislative process,” said Speaker Lucas.

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