Lawmakers faced with cutting millions from K-12 education, again

By Jackie Faye - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers have to make some tough decisions that will impact your children.

They need to cut $200 million from the entire state budget, and since K-12 is the state's biggest expense, a big chunk is going to come from there.

"We have actually talked about everything we can think of, anything from cutting instructional days to not purchasing new text books," State House Minority Leader Harry Ott.

Ott is on the K-12 Subcommittee, a group of lawmakers that is meeting everyday to try to figure out what to cut from a budget already cut pretty deep.

"Which is worse, to take five days off the end of school or to reduce the number of teachers and thereby make the classroom larger?" asked Rep. Daniel Cooper, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

Cooper happens to be married to a teacher, and says he doesn't want to see anymore positions go.   
South Carolina schools already have 1,000 fewer teachers this year over last, and in the past 18 months have cut $750 million from their own budget.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, who is running for governor, says all options at this point are unfortunate.

"It's hard to make a recommendation when you know that any recommendation is going to cause further distress to the school system," said Rex.

Chairman of the Richland One School Board Vince Ford hopes lawmakers won't cut any days from the school year.

"What we should be doing is moving in the opposite direction and that is increasing seat time and increasing opportunity for our children to learn more," said Ford.

Some lawmakers say cutting the last five days of school would save roughly $21 million a day in salaries and transportation, which would be half of the state budget shortfall.

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