Despite more and more funding for schools across South Carolina, the Corridor of Shame lawsuit drags on as public schools in low-income areas persistently fail their students. The State Supreme Court will be reconsidering the initial decision for a second time. The State Newspaper reports:
[This year] the Legislature approved a new budget with about $3 billion in state money for K-12 education. Throw in another $700 million in federal aid, and that’s a $3.7 billion enterprise for the 2008-09 academic year — more than double the $1.8 billion being spent on public schools in 1993.
The Spartanburg Herald Journal discusses the need to revamp the State’s complicated and antiquated public school funding formula. The SHJ authors point out how the task is politically contentious but fail to mention the benefits of a strictly student-based funding formula. They do admit the present mess is partly due to a complicated tax “swap” enacted in 2006.
[the Education Finance Act] uses a 31-year-old formula based on the value of taxable property in school districts to distribute the funds. But homeowner property taxes aren’t used to fund schools anymore. The state uses a higher sales tax instead, making the funding formula obsolete. Several school districts that have had quickly rising property values claim they are cheated out of their fair share by this formula. These problems are compounded by the fact that when the state instituted its property tax/sales tax swap, it based funding under the new program on what the districts had been collecting in taxes.
The Charleston Post and Courier praises a magnet school in West Ashley.
Such choices can come in many forms, including magnet and charter schools… In this case, the attractions are the communication/technology focus of West Ashley Middle, which also will have a voluntary extended school day with tutoring, and the math focus of St. Andrew’s Middle, which also will offer single-gender classes in such core courses as science and English.
Lexington School District passed an enormous $172.2 million operating budget for 2008-09 and then announced plans for a massive $336 million bond issue. The district has refused to comment on it’s recent illegal involvement in state house and senate races.
The Greenville News praises charter schools but incorrectly claims that Rex, the State Department, and local districts have been supporting them.
Charter schools enhance educational opportunity in the state by offering more choices for students and parents while also providing a bit of healthy competition to traditional public schools. It’s certainly in the interest of the state to promote charter schools. The innovative schools are aimed at increasing educational choices for students — particularly by appealing to a student’s specific learning needs. State leaders and all South Carolinians should support the continued growth of these worthwhile schools.