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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.22: When more education money means cuts
(Week of June 4, 2002)

MAY 31, 2002 - - Everybody's for education, right? Then consider this: the South Carolina General Assembly this year boosted total spending for education to higher levels than ever before, but basic student funding is lower than last year.

It's confusing and complex, but more money in the budget this year doesn't mean all students will get more in the classroom.

On one hand, the General Assembly appropriated more than $250 million from lottery revenues to new spending on everything from college scholarships, endowed professorships, technology improvements, K-12 programs for low-performing schools, school buses, and new programs for math, science and social studies in challenged schools.

On the other hand, the slumping economy affected agencies throughout state government - including education. Mid-year K-12 education cuts totaled $160 million. In the new state budget, lawmakers didn't fully restore funding cuts and shifted some new monies to programs to pay good teachers more money, help summer school costs and buy some new buses.

Bottom line: the state's base student cost of $2,073 - the funding building block of state education - will drop by $40 to $2,033 in the new state budget.

Thus, more money (lottery revenues plus shifted priorities for new non-lottery revenues) means a cut to basic education funding next year in South Carolina.

This year, budget cuts had a significant impact in South Carolina's classrooms, according to Education Department officials. In many districts, teaching positions got cut directly or through attrition. Schools adjusted thermostats to save energy. Several curtailed summer school programs. Others eliminated technology budgets. And many instituted hiring freezes and banned out-of-county travel.

In Horry County, for example, the school district cut more than 110 positions, including teachers, administrators, assistant principals, staff and aides. Laurens County's District 56 won't offer summer school or renew contracts for arts teachers next year. In Florence 3, administrators cut teacher supplements for extracurricular activities. Sumter District 2 eliminated 53 teaching positions through attrition and cut varsity sports teams in swimming, tennis and golf.

Next year with base student funding slightly lower, times will be tight again - even though there are millions in lottery revenues. Because of lower per student funding from the state, local districts will have to make new cuts, continue austerity measures or generate new revenues. And to add to problems, there could be even more budget cuts in October depending on how the economy does, state education officials say.

But all of the news isn't bad. Here's a quick look at who wins and loses in education:

Technical college students: They'll be able to get grants to cover up to 70 percent of their tuition.

Four-year college students: Good students and their parents really win. More than $50 million in lottery revenues goes to scholarships. But average students won't qualify and face tuition increases of 8 to 20 percent, according to various reports.

K-12 students: Most students will see few improvements and some will learn in classrooms with more students. But kids in low-performing schools will have more teachers and be able to take part in specialized math, science and social studies programs.

Teachers: Good teachers can qualify for up to $7,500 more per year if they're nationally certified. All teachers get a slight pay raise.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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