In the last year, public schools in South Carolina have endured $360 million in state budget cuts.
Just as the budget crisis worsens, parents are getting more bad news about public school performance. Unlike the budget crunch, which began in November of last year, low test scores, growing race- and wealth gaps, a 55% graduate rate and a surge in the number of failing public schools are a long term trend in South Carolina public schools.
In the latest round of bad news, parents were shocked to learn that according to a nationwide study, 11 of the country’s worst performing public schools are located in South Carolina. Of those 11 persistently failing schools, 4 are located in Charleston South Carolina.
Now it appears that principals at 2 of those schools will receive salary bonuses this year!
From the Post and Courier:
Seventeen Charleston County principals who oversee the school district’s lowest-achieving schools will receive more than $320,000 in bonuses this year for working at their respective schools.
The bonus money comes directly from the state and can’t be used to cover the $13.3 million in mid-year state funding cuts or the projected $28 million deficit next year. But the supplement money could be used for other school-based programs, such as credit recovery courses or training for teachers.
…The stipend amounts range from $15,000 to $25,000 annually, depending on whether it’s an elementary, middle or high school, and the extra money was promised for three years. The state has guidelines for ways the intervention and assistance money can be used, and schools must submit plans annually to show how they will spend it to help the school overcome its academic challenges.
Included in the list published by the Post and Courier, and based on information from the Charleston School District, are Brentwood Middle School and Morningside Middle School. The principal at Brentwood is Lawanda Glears and at Morningside Middle is Kala Goodwine. These two schools are listed as number 9 and number 8 respectively in the national “worst public schools” list.
Current Superintendent Nancy McGinley told the Post and Courier that “she supports recognizing those who are making progress and that the supplement should be tied to results. These bonuses essentially were “signing bonuses” and she “wasn’t going to renege on the arrangement because it was a condition of employment and a contractual obligation.”
These bonuses for failing public school principals come shortly on the heels of an earlier scandal in Charleston, where principal Mishawnda Moore of Clyde-Sanders School has been accused of systemic cheating on student assessments. In that Cylde-Sanders scandal, Moore had been awarded both public accolades and financial incentives for raising the school from a “failing” rating through test score improvements.
Thankfully, one African-American lawmaker from Charleston is taking on the system that has perpetuated and rewarded the failing public schools. State Senator Robert Ford (D) has introduced legislation that would offer tax credits to parents that transfered their children to private or homeschools. The bill, the Educational Opportunity Act, also offers tax credits to donors that fund non-profit scholarship granting organizations that specifically target low-income children. Those transfering out of failing public schools or with special needs would enjoy larger credits and scholarships.