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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rex Talks With York County School Boards

South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex met with the 4 York County School Boards Tuesday night in Tega Cay.  Also attending were  SC District 15 Senator Wes Hayes, SC District 48 Representative Carl Gullick, SC District 45 Representative (and SC District 16 Senate candidate) Mick Mulvaney, York County District 4 County Councilman Roy Blake, and SC 16th Judicial Circuit State School Board member Britt Blackwell. (All the York County Legislative Delegation and County Council were invited)

Rex gave a broad overview of the state of testing and funding in South Carolina. Poverty continues to be a major obstacle to success with only 8 districts (out of 86 in the state) having student populations with less than 50% above the poverty level (Free & Reduced Lunch status). Three of those districts are in York County (Fort Mill, Clover, & Rock Hill) and there are indications  Rock Hill will drop from the list this year. Teacher salaries continue to be a deterrent to getting students to select education as a career. (As a personal comparison - Chairman Norwood and myself entered the work force in 1975 - he in education (teacher & coach) compared to industry for myself (engineering). Our starting yearly salaries were within $1,000. Today, starting salaries are about $20,000 apart.).  There will also be a major teacher shortage in a few years.  As "Baby Boomers" leave teaching positions, there are simply not enough teachers to replace them.

Public choice continues to be a major push. Districts should be looking for choices within schools to minimize transportation issues (every 8 cents in fuel adds $1 million in expense for buses). South Carolina now leads the nation in Single Gender choice and may soon lead the nation in Montessori choice. Vouchers continue to be a major threat to public education.

They (Department of Education and State Legislature) continue to look at funding models with weightings for poverty, special needs, and high growth.

Superintendent Rex was very complimentary of York County Legislators for supporting education initiatives.

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