Gov. McMaster vetoes bill to consolidate Orangeburg Co. schools

Gov. McMaster vetoes bill to consolidate Orangeburg Co. schools

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed S. 662, a controversial bill that would have consolidated the school districts in Orangeburg County into one entity.

McMaster called the bill, as written, unconstitutional because, under the plan, a transition committee would be created to oversee a budget and be approved the legislative delegation. McMaster says that's not constitutional under the separation of powers.

"At present, Orangeburg County is divided into three distinct public school districts," McMaster's statement says. " This fractured arrangement has led to precisely the sort of wastefulness alluded to by the Supreme County of South Carolina in the Abbeville Litigation (Abbeville City School Dist. v. State)."

H. 622, had several changes made to it before this current version was passed on Tuesday, including deleting language increasing teacher pay to meet the Southeastern average.

The merger would have taken effect July 1, 2019. The bill received strong opposition from concerned parents and school officials.

Those in favor of the consolidation said it would have helped the crumbling school buildings and level the playing field throughout the school districts.

Gov. McMaster said he remains committed to the education of South Carolina's children.

"If we are to remain competitive, we must find new and innovative solutions to address struggling schools," McMaster said. "A South Carolina Department of Education study contemplates savings of $89 million over five years through consolidation efforts. However, we must accomplish these changes lawfully."

You can read the governor's full statement here:

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