COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina lawmakers said they are one step closer to fixing education in the state.
During Wednesday night’s State of the State address, Governor Henry McMaster told Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and Senator Greg Hembree (R-Horry), “Send me these reforms and I will sign them into law.”
On Thursday, these reforms began their path to the Governor’s desk.
Speaker Lucas and Sen. Hembree filed a massive, 84-page bill in the House and Senate. They said this is a major piece of K-12 education reform.
They are calling it the “South Carolina Career Opportunity and Access For All Act” and it’s getting some bipartisan support.
“The Speaker met with the House Democratic Caucus this morning and showed us the deficiencies across the state,” Representative Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) said. “Even in some of the richer school districts, money alone does not solve the problem.”
The massive bill is focused on a variety of topics. The bill addresses school consolidation, increasing teacher pay, developing K-4 education, preparing students for the workforce, and increasing access to technical schools.
“It’s comprehensive. It covers a lot of ground - governance, consolidation, recruiting and retaining teachers, students’ bill of rights, school safety, ethics,” Sen. Hembree said. “I mean, it is an 80-page bill with a lot of meat in it.”
The bill is proposing to raise teacher starting salaries to $35,000. Lawmakers say they also want to get the average salary higher than the Southeastern average.
The bill will head to a Senate Committee and House Committee sometime next week.
“I’m excited about the fact we’re all talking about the same thing,” Representative Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg) said. “How important economic development is and how important education is and they have to mesh hand in hand.”
SC for Ed released a statement on Friday, Jan. 27, saying “While we applaud Speaker Lucas’ efforts to create change in education, we also have concerns.”
You can read the proposed legislation below.