Districts go to court over funding for cross-county students

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

MITFORD, SC (WIS) - They go to school in Chester County, but live in Fairfield County. Mitford is right on the county line, so should Fairfield's school district have to pay Chester County for those students?

About 100 students at Great Falls in Chester County are from Mitford in Fairfield County. Chester County says they're welcome. "Geographically, it's in our backyard," said Chester County Superintendent Dr. Tom Graves. "It makes sense for those kids to be there."

Mitford is right on the county line, and it's much closer for students to head to class in Great Falls than to stay in Fairfield and go to school in Winnsboro.

Since the 1940s, Fairfield has been paying Chester stipends for those students. Now they say they're done because they simply can't afford to shell out money.  
"Our schools will suffer, we're gonna possibly have to cut programs and teachers," said Jackie Wallace of Fairfield County Schools. "A number of benefits will be cut in our county."

If Fairfield continues not to pay, Mitford kids could have to stay in-county which could add longer days and a bit of a commute. "We're talking an hour minimum depending on bus routes, weather," said Graves.

"We have neighborhoods bordering Newberry, toward Richland counties and we don't hear parents complaining about the commute," responded Wallace.

It's up to a judge to figure out who will win this border battle. That could take 45 days.

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