School board sets priorities for upcoming legislative session

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 7, 2012 

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The Beaufort County Board of Education's wish list for the upcoming state legislative session includes changes to the methods of allocating and determining state education funding, legislation that would fund early childhood education and changes to charter schools.

The list of priorities was approved 7-0 by school board members at their Saturday work session. Board members Wayne Carbeiner, Steven Morello, Ronald Speaks and Michael Rivers were absent.

Many items on the list mirror the legislative priorities of the South Carolina School Board Association, school board vice-chairman George Wilson said. Wilson said he took the association's priorities and added a few more related to issues that affect the Beaufort County district.

Board members seemed to agree on the list, which was approved with little discussion.

Board member Earl Campbell expressed support for the recommendation that the board support legislation that would provide adequate funding so that all at-risk four-year-olds could attend a child development program at a public school.

"There are many parents and families who can't afford to send children to a private daycare," Campbell said. He said he believes the state should provide early childhood education in order to boost children's academic achievement early in life.

"If you try to address it in middle school, it's too late," he said. "I think if you invest in early childhood, you would see a lot of advancement."

Aside from supporting early childhood education, the priorities list includes:

  • supporting legislation that would require all charter schools to be sponsored and funded by the state

  • opposing any legislation which would directly or indirectly subsidize elementary or secondary private, religious or home schools through tuition tax credits or vouchers

  • supporting legislation that would exempt public schools from paying local 1 percent sales taxes, such as the tourism development tax, capital project tax, transportation tax, or school district/education capital improvement tax

  • supporting legislation that would make sending a child to a school system in another county by lying about the student's residence an act of fraud

  • supporting several priorities related to education funding -- including reforming the state's funding structure so it is based on current tax structure -- to "equalize educational opportunities statewide" and more realistically compute base student cost, which is aligned with state standards for student performance

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