SC lawmakers grapple with how to properly fund state education

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Fixing the state’s education system has been and still is a priority for state lawmakers.

They’ve been working to tackle issues in the classrooms and now they’re moving on to issues at the bank; focusing on how the state funds education.

Lawmakers on the Senate Education Funding Study Committee met for the third time Wednesday to evaluate the state’s education funding formula. The review comes after a revenue and fiscal affairs office report on the state’s current funding situation.

“It pointed out we have 55 districts that are losing and that’s a problem. It points out that not all the money is getting to the classroom and it needs to be worked on,” explained Senator Ross Turner from Greenville, the chairman of the committee.

Several suggestions were presented at Wednesday’s meeting, including a plan to have the state cover 2/3rds of a district’s expenses.

Dr. Rebecca Gunnlaugsson testified before the committee. She has spent the past several years examining the current funding formula and developing an alternative funding option that she presented to lawmakers.

“This has the effect of equalizing tax burdens across the district. It ensures that low wealth districts receive a larger share of their funding from the state and it dramatically simplifies the cost sharing calculations.”

Those calculations have presented to be a big problem with the state’s current formula, which is why the committee is updating the system to make sure money is spread equitably across the state.

Senator Turner added, “How do we make sure the money gets to the classroom, is it getting to the classroom, do we have too many strings, do we have too many mandates on the school that they don’t need…”

The committee will meet one more time after session starts to narrow down those proposals and choose one to present to the General Assembly.

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