The funding of state K-12 education

The time is fast approaching when the funding of state K-12 education for the foreseeable future will be
determined. There are competing versions of the funding bills in the General Assembly House of
Representatives and Senate which will likely be resolved in a conference committee before the
governor’s possible signature. Most board members across the state prefer the Senate version.

Here’s why:
After the House passed its budget several of us visited with Senator Ronnie Cromer who conferenced us
with the Senate Finance Committee staff member responsible for authoring bills. They listened patiently
as Akil Ross, Superintendent of Lex-Rich 5, Al Pressley, Superintendent of Newberry County Schools,
Trustee Huddle and I expressed our concerns. Many of our concerns were addressed.

First, there were a few districts that would receive decreased funding. The House version indicated in
District 5 that there would be fewer dollars received this year versus year after next of $4,997,901., the
second-largest decrease statewide.

The Senate version states that under law each district will receive the same amount next year as it does
this year. The House version simply put that provision in a proviso which does not carry the weight of
state law.

It is important to note that while the House version of the budget did not include any money for the
advertised $4,000. per year teacher’s raise.

Chief among those changes made from the House version was the decrease in each cell of the teacher
minimum salary schedule from $4,000. to $2,000. That seems like a negative at first blush until one
considers that District 5 already pays very near the top of the $40,000. per year threshold. Therefore,
any raises given would not be funded by the state. We simply do not have the resources to give every
teacher a $4,000. raise and nothing was included for other staff who are not considered teachers.

The House version also requires a local fund match of 25% of EIA portion of 2021-2022 funding to be
received in 2022-2023. The Senate does not. About one-third of the funds we receive are from local tax

The Senate version does not require the local percent of teacher salary to remain the same as last year
while the House version does, So, school districts have more flexibility under the Senate version.

Finally, and most dear to my heart, Career and Technical Weighted Pupal Units are at present 1:29 to 1.
That means we receive 29% more for students, many of whom are on the career track versus college
track. District 5 recently invested very heavily in Career and Technical Education to add to the value of
every student regardless of future ambitions.

Our student led organizations such DECA, FFA and Skills USA are second to none and produce the finest
leadership available through Career and Technical Education. Our past exudes success stories which
abound in employment opportunities. One such was the recent student who aspired to be a first
responder and was able to go to work a local firehouse after graduation just last year. Or the students
who became Michelin scholars and received 4-year scholarships because of their associations with CTE.
Or the student who overcame extreme poverty to earn a teaching certificate and was the first Call Me
Mister from a state university in the Pee Dee. He now teaches at another school district in the state.

But the House version reduces the Weighted Pupal Units from 1:29 to 1 to 1 to1. The Senate version
cuts it to 1:20 to 1. I never thought we would celebrate a 33% cut in CTE funds but something is better
than nothing. We really cannot afford as a society to short-change the workers and taxpayers of
tomorrow of the technical skills they will need to earn a decent living.

I agree that private schools and home schooling as individual family choices are right for certain
situations. The reason given for the House version changes is that it allows for more choice. But when it
comes to Career and Technical Education private schools, or charter schools cannot offer the education
that our Center and high schools offer.

Please join those of us who believe that the funding we need should not be changed.

Kenneth B. Loveless
Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees
Lexington Richland School District Five