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Monday, August 1, 2011

Senator Hayes To Hold Public Meeting

Senator Wes Hayes will hold his next public meeting on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm at the Glennon Center, Upper Level, 15077 Molokai Drive in Tega Cay, S.C. Senator Hayes has been a friend to public education and this will be a good time to come out and discuss the issues with him. You can see his latest newsletter by clicking here.

Parts related to education are below:
THE BUDGET. After four consecutive years of declining state revenues, the FY11/12 budget is based on a revenue forecast that trends in a positive direction with the Recurring General Fund projected at $350 million higher.  On a positive note for K-12 funding, this budget increases the base student cost by $265 per pupil to $1,880, but this amount remains short of the EFA mandated amount of $2,700 per pupil. A budget Proviso requires the DOR to impute an index value for owner-occupied residential property to eliminate issues with ITA caused by Act 388.

REFORMING K-12 EDUCATION FUNDING. I recently chaired the Select Committee on K-12 Funding to consider changes to how K-12 funds are distributed. Our goal was to develop a revenue neutral funding distribution method that increases funding for impoverished students, students with a limited English proficiency, students in gifted and talented programs, students not meeting state standards, and that recognizes the need to fund basic district operational and fixed costs. I sponsored a Bill to accomplish the Committee’s objectives, and it provides for the following: (1) flexibility and transparency (provide districts with the flexibility to transfer and expend funds from designated revenue sources and require an online check registry to address transparency concerns); (2) deregulation (require the State Board of Education to develop regulations establishing a process for districts to apply for deregulation); (3) teacher pay (require the Board of Education to develop regulations creating a framework for an optional teacher incentive compensation program); (4) the SC Public Charter School District (address additional funding requests and distinguish between brick and mortar and virtual schools); and (5) replacing the Education Finance Act with a simpler system where the money follows the child. This Bill passed favorably out of the Senate Education Committee and now rests with the Senate Finance Committee for fiscal review.
CHARTER SCHOOLS. I am disappointed that the charter school Bill was delayed in the Senate because of a dispute over early voting. The Bill had passed the House and was up for third reading in the Senate when it was delayed. I am hopeful that it will pass early next January. The Bill would allow charter school students to participate in extracurricular activities at their resident public school if those activities are not offered by the charter school. The Bill also would allow for single-gender charter schools and permit higher education institutions to voluntarily sponsor charter schools. The Bill does not specify statewide charter school district funding but provides that the General Assembly shall provide recurring funds for the district. For FY11/12, the General Assembly allocated $25 million in the budget for charter schools. Thus, in addition to the $1,880 per weighted pupil funding received from the state, students enrolled in virtual charter schools shall receive $1,700 per weighted pupil, and students enrolled in brick-and-mortar charter schools shall receive $3,250 per weighted pupil.

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