New education funding model could move money from one district to the next

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers have been working on improving the state’s education system since the last legislative session and funding has always been a top concern.

Recently, a 67-page report prepared by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs office reviews the state’s current education funding formula while offering suggestions on how to equitably fund education in the state.

Right now, the state uses 3 main revenue sources to fund the state’s school districts, including, money generated from sales tax adn money used to reimburse districts for tax exempt properties.

However, different formulas are used to calculate how much money comes from each revenue source.

Senator Mike Fanning worries about implementing a new formula. The state’s education system has been underfunded for many years. Fanning fears a new formula will not get at the root of the problem.

“We haven’t funded the old formula one time in 10 years. We don’t know if it’s broken. The old formula has amazing things in it that has a poverty weighting that factors in a district’s ability to pay so poor districts get more money from the state, but if you don’t fund the formula the factors dont’ ever come in to existence,” explained Fanning.

In the report, RFA, tries to streamline those funding formulas by increasing the property tax index to 75 mills across the board. This change would allow the state to redistribute more than $170 million dollars.

However, the reallocation of funds would come from moving money from one school district to the next. The funding model presented in the report would distribute less money than in 2018-2019 to certain school districts.

Senator Fanning continued, “This is ludicrous that we would take $50 million from Charleston County and give them to another district but ironically Allendale, Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Jasper and Georgetown all lose money and are all poor rural districts.”

26 districts would lose money with this proposed formula including odd school districts in Spartanburg totaling about $8 million. Charleston schools would lose about $50 million according to the new formula.

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