LEE COUNTY, SC (WIS) - State lawmakers have agreed on allowing underprivileged school districts in South Carolina to use about $55 million of the state's budget on building repairs.
This, after the Supreme Court ruled lawmakers must help the impoverished districts named in the Abbeville lawsuit to give students a fair chance at an equal education.
School leaders in Lee County are glad to hear of the money for building projects they may receive; however, they doubt what they will be awarded will cover all they need, since the funding is to be distributed to several districts across the state.
Staff show damage from buildings aging within their district, like at Bishopville Primary School. There are leaks in the roof, paint chipping off of doors and walls, and bathrooms to be renovated. Several windows have already been replaced, in an effort to keep classrooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
"You know, we're doing the best that we can with what we have as far as making sure our students are able to use safe equipment as far as the desks go," Director of Student Services and Operations Vance Jones began.
He went on, pointing to and showing damage to the school building.
"We have a leak in the roof right above this. We'll have some painters come in and kind of re-paint the shelves and try to clean the carpet, even though it needs to be taken up and redone," Jones said.
He said staff do what they can, but there's too limited of a tax base in Lee County to cover it all. That's why he is grateful for some state help.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman has seen some of the aging buildings districts want to repair.
"So we always say, and want safety to be the number one priority, and safety includes a roof over your head and air that is safe to breathe. So, these projects are critically important to our students and teachers who are in those classrooms every day," Spearman said.
Still, there are doubts the $35 million can cover it all.
"We are delighted to get any additional funds to help us with our facilities and to make our schools nicer for children. But I'm just not sure at this time of how much it will be," Lee County Schools Superintendent Wanda Andrews said.