State Charter Schools Receive New Funding Source

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The House of Representatives approved new funding for the state’s public charter schools, helping push money to these innovative public schools as they provide choices for our state’s parents.

“By passing this bill, the House clearly voiced its support for our public charter schools and the students who attend them,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. “Education funding should be tied to the needs of individual students in the classroom. Providing an opportunity for our students to achieve academic excellence in alternative public school options will improve education in our state.”

Charter schools are public schools, and the charter schools affected by this bill are part of the state-sponsored charter school district. The district was created in 2005 by Republicans as a way to free charter schools from excessive burdens imposed by some local school districts.

“Charter schools are an essential part of our state’s education reform efforts,” said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham. “Our state-approved charter schools need funding and need to stay open. This bill is a good step toward keeping these public school choices open to our state’s children.”

Charter schools are funded below the funding level of traditional public schools. The bill approved Wednesday will provide charter school students state funding to fill the funding gap that a lack of local funding leaves – despite the fact that these students move to public charter schools and are not educated by the traditional school districts. The legislation also creates a new ability for school districts to create their own charter schools.

“Local communities have worked very hard to provide parents with the choice of alternative public school options,” said Phil Owens, chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee. “If a parent chooses an alternative education option for their child, adequate public education dollars should follow that student to his new public school.”

The House Ways and Means Committee will address this funding mechanism as it debates the budget in full committee this week.

The charter school bill is the sixth agenda item to pass the House in 2011, following on the heels of the Repeal Amendment, Tort Reform, roll call voting, Voter ID, and the Higher Education Transparency Act.

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PAID FOR BY GARY SIMRILL FOR HOUSE