Lawmakers assess the state of SC charter schools

Lawmakers assess the state of SC charter schools

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As lawmakers assess the state of charter schools in South Carolina, the two statewide charter school authorizers are fielding the questions.

Tuesday marked the first of what will likely be several more testimonials in front of an Ad Hoc Legislative Committee comprised of members on both sides of the aisle. The hearing took roughly two hours.

The committee heard from the Public Charter School District of South Carolina and the Charter Institute of Erskine, as well as an outside expert in the field. Erskine is a recently formed and quickly growing charter school authorizer, while the Public Charter School District has been around for a decade.

Lawmakers are taking a look at the policies for charter schools and their authorizers across the state to see what's working and what needs to change ahead of this next legislative session.

"We needed to show them that we are competent, we are capable, we are holding our schools accountable, that we're helping our schools grow and at the end of the day we are impacting student achievement around the state of South Carolina,” said CEO of the Charter Institute of Erskine, Cameron Runyan.

While Erskine’s authorization privileges are in its infancy, while growing rapidly - the SC Public Charter School District manages more than 20,000 students. Its Superintendent said lawmakers are doing their due diligence.

"I think it’s right to take a step back in key moments in this timeline and look at what’s working really well so we can build on that,” said Elliot Smalley, Superintendent of SCPCSD.

Leaders have asked both authorizers to prepare additional information for the next hearing - including a recent audit at the PCSD, as well as a more detailed breakdown of racial composition within the authorizers' schools and leadership.

The next hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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