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SC looks to close education funding gap with new spending model

Lawmakers have moved to change the education funding model, providing more money for districts with higher poverty rates and students with disabilities.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Millions of additional state dollars are going to South Carolina schools after a change in the recent state budget.

Lawmakers have moved to change the education funding model, providing more money for districts with higher poverty rates and students with disabilities.

"We've been operating under a funding formula that was established in 1977," Patrick Kelly, with the Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA), said. "This funding formula is, in its truest sense, what you would call educational equity, of getting more funding to the areas that research show need additional funds."

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Greater spending flexibility is also included, according to Katie Nilges, the Director of Government Affairs with the S.C. Department of Education.

"Those decisions will be now made by the local school board," Nilges said, "where as before there were certain laws, regulations, provisos that said x percentage must be spent on x initiative."

Dr. Harrison Goodwin, Superintendent of the Kershaw County School District, said it's helped with teacher pay.

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"We have increased teacher salaries. We've increased our classified employee salaries. We've increased our bus driver salaries significantly," Dr. Goodwin said. "There's no doubt it's a competitive job market and we're impacted the same way everybody else is. So, making sure that we can continue to offer a competitive salary with competitive benefits, keeps us where we're at least somewhat competitive with the open market."

The new model will only be in effect temporarily, unless made permanent by lawmakers, Kelly said, a decision he hopes will be made in the future.

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