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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Senator Hayes To Hold Meeting February 6, 2012

South Carolina State Senator Wes Hayes will hold a District 15 public meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012. The meeting will be held at Fewell Park, 1204 Alexander Road, Rock Hill, SC and will begin at 7:00 pm. Senator Hayes had this to say concerning education in his most recent newsletter:

SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION. Representative Young also sponsored a Joint Resolution last year that would permit the voters to decide whether the State Constitution should be amended to delete the Superintendent of Education from the list of state officers that the Constitution requires to be elected. Instead, the Resolution provides that the Superintendent of Education would be appointed by the Governor, upon the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term coterminous with the Governor. The Resolution passed the House last year, and initially reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a minority report. Although the minority report has been removed, one Senator has objected to the Resolution, and it has been placed on the contested calendar

THE BUDGET. Recent projections from the Board of Economic Advisors (the “BEA”) seem to suggest that South Carolina’s budget shortfalls over the past several years are beginning to trend in a positive direction. After four consecutive years of declining state revenues, the FY11/12 budget was based on a revenue forecast that projected the Recurring General Fund at $350 million higher than FY10/11. This additional revenue raised the base General Fund budget to $5.45 billion for FY11/12, but this amount is $1.3 billion less than the FY07/08 General Fund budget. Despite budgetary issues, the FY11/12 budget provided over $760 million in tax relief to business and individuals, including $600 million of property tax relief and $146 million to lessen the burden from the employment tax increase. Additionally, as for K-12 funding, the current budget in-creased the base student cost by $265 per pupil to $1,880 (which still remains short of the EFA man-dated amount of $2,700 per pupil). Looking ahead, the Board of Economic Advisors projected last November that there will be an additional $920 million of revenue for FY12/13, and $493 million of that amount will be recurring funds. However, there re-mains much uncertainty about how these additional funds will factor into the FY12/13 budget, given the proposed legislation on spending caps, the $664 mil-lion shortfall on education funding under the EFA, and what initially appears to be an additional $200 million of new money needed to fund Medicaid

REFORMING K-12 EDUCATION FUNDING. Last year, I 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 ad-dress transparency concerns); (2) deregulation (re-quire 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 last year 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 at the end of Session. I am hopeful that it passes early this Session. 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.
You may find the rest of his comments by clicking here.

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