Lawmakers consider school consolidation to fix education woes

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South Carolina has consistently ranked in the bottom nationally for educaton and so far lawmakers across the board have claimed 2019 as the year for education reform. 

Lawmakers have proposed to increase teacher pay and improve classroom settings in a series of comprehensive education bills. But now lawmakers are looking to make some changes at the district level.

“How to fund education in the state?” It’s a question lawmakers have been trying to answer for the past few years and with several bills already filed for the 2019 session, lawmakers are hoping consolidation is the answer.

At least 3 different bills filed for the 2019 session propose school consolidation as a solution to fixing the state’s troubled education system. Consolidation would combine multiple school districts.

Senator Brad Hutto represents several school districts in poor,rural counties that need additional help.

“The school districts are small and a lot of them have infrastrucuture needs and they don’t have the tax base to be able to build new buildings or to compete with surrounding counties for teacher pay,” explained Senator Hutto (R)-Orangeburg.

Supporters of consolidation say it’s an attempt to offer more resources and save money. 

School district with criteria like a district size of less than 1500 people, or schools that need serious improvement would be considered for consolidation

But some educators argue consolidation is not the answer.

“When you merge two schools together you lose some of the potential benefits that can gained from a smaller shcool having that positive effect on student culture and achievement. And if you have a rural remote school and merge it the students will have to travel significantly,” added David Martinez, assistant professor in USC’s Department of Education Leadership and Policies. 

This bill would also require the superintendent of education to review the consolidation and determine whether or not it worked in the district.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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