COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Disagreements over the number of people who work for the state Department of Education has come up twice during the gubernatorial debates, and could surface again in Tuesday's final debate.
During discussions of educational funding, Democrat Vincent Sheheen has said that the Department of Education has around 880 employees, and about half of them are working in mechanic shops to keep the school buses running. Republican Nikki Haley countered that the department has over 1,100 employees.
As of last month, the Department of Education is authorized for 1,179 full-time positions, which is the number Haley cited in the debate. The department says only about 75% of those positions are actually filled, however, because there are quite a few vacancies due to budget cuts.
About 96 percent of the authorized bus shop positions are filled, while only 78 percent of non-bus shop positions are filled. The department says most of the non-bus shop or administrative employees are working at the Rutledge Building on Bull Street, while the rest are at other offices in the Columbia area.
There are also 156 full-time positions authorized for the two governor's schools and the First Steps program, but the department didn't know how many of those jobs are currently filled.
The Department of Education says they have 883 actual employees working in bus shop and non-bus shop positions, which is close to the figure Sheheen has been using in the debates.