SC Budget for Next Year Includes More Money for Schools -

SC Budget for Next Year Includes More Money for Schools

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Next year's budget includes money for new school buses. Next year's budget includes money for new school buses.

The South Carolina budget for next year that's now on Gov. Nikki Haley's desk would send more money to the classroom, but there's debate about whether it would have much of an impact.

State lawmakers increased education funding by $77 million. This year, the state spent $2,012 per student, what's known as the "base student cost". Next year's budget would raise that to $2,101 per student.

Jackie Hicks, president of the South Carolina Education Association, says, "You're going to have a few of your classes that are going to be smaller. I mean hopefully that's the decisions made from the school boards and from administration, because over the last four years that's where our problems have been. Our classes have been growing and it's been much harder for teachers to work with so many different students in the classroom."

But while the base student cost would go up by $89 per student, it would still be $670 per student less than what it should be according to state law.

Scott Price, general counsel for the South Carolina School Boards Association, says the budget overall is a disappointment for K-12 public schools. He doesn't think the additional money will mean smaller class sizes. "The increase that we did see in the base student cost is barely going to be enough to cover a mandated step increase in salary for teachers that the districts are going to have to fund in the next year," he says.

There are some positives in the budget, though, he says. It includes an additional $24 million for textbooks and other instructional materials.

Teachers who get National Board Certification would continue to receive a $5,000 salary supplement.

There's $26 million to expand 4-year-old kindergarten for children living in poverty in 17 more school districts, in addition to the 36 districts already being served by the program.

And there's $23.5 million for more school buses, although half of that money would be from an expected budget surplus and unclaimed lottery prizes, which may not materialize. That's also $10 million less than what the state should be spending on school buses, based on a state law to replace buses every 15 years.

Gov. Haley has until Tuesday night, June 25th, to use her line-item veto. State lawmakers will go back to Columbia on Wednesday, June 26th, to vote on whether to override her vetoes. It takes a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to override a veto.



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