Lawmakers weigh funding options for charter schools


An education oversight committee is reviewing the state’s charter schools. Most recent conversations held this week focused on funding and improving performance at some of these non-traditional public schools. 

On Monday, the small group of lawmakers chaired by Rep. Bill Taylor visited the idea of performance based funding for charter schools. 

“How do you get the performance you want out of these schools? Maybe tying money to it is the way to do that,” asked Rep. Taylor.

There are 77 charter schools in the state. 34 of them are authorized and managed by the SC Public Charter School District. 

Elliot Smalley, the superintendent, explained, “It is a school where the key decisions makers school leaders the board have created a school and manage a school are close to the ground and close to the students.”

Each school sets its own mission that it’s required to meet. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences. 

Rep. Taylor added, “If they fail for 3 year, they’re gone.”

And recently several schools have failed. According to the SCPCSD, 5 schools have been closed in the last 3 years with a 6th one pending a hearing next week. 

Performance-based funding would be an attempt to improve performance of the schools. Lawmakers hope to use it as motivational tool to help measure success. 

“It’s funny when you put incentives there human nature is we tend to get better we see where the money is and say let’s perform at a higher level and do these things,” Rep. Taylor continued. 

SCPCSD does not take a stance on legislation; however, the superintendent thinks “it’s a good idea to make investments in schools that work for students and families.” Smalley added, “We have a lot of ineffective schools and standards and spending.” 

The idea is still in the exploratory phase for lawmakers to figure out what those performance guidelines would be and if funding means taking funding from charter schools not performing well or giving more funding to those schools that are. 

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