State Education Funding Could End Up Hurting Beaufort County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/25/05

State Education Funding Could End Up Hurting Beaufort County

Beaufort County schools could lose $6.6 million. Beaufort County schools could lose $6.6 million.

For the first time in years, South Carolina's set to fully fund its Education Finance Act. But for a couple counties, that could actually be a bad thing.

That doesn't seem to add up. Any elementary math class could tell you that a $300 million boost statewide should not result in a multimillion dollar loss for anyone, but that's exactly what Beaufort County's looking at.

Beaufort County schools have been strapped for budget cash for years, and if the state budget passes the way it's written now, they'll have even less money.

"Beaufort County could end up losing 6.6 million under this budget," said school district spokesman Tom Hudson.

That's because the new budget has a new formula for doling out money. As the House passed it, all the extra funding is being allocated based on property values, and Beaufort County's are some of the highest in the state.

It seems Beaufort County is sort of getting lost in the mix. There's only one other county in the entire state that stands to lose money through the same formula.

"Our local legislators are certainly concerned with this and are working with the other legislators in Charleston to see what they can do to at least hold our county and Charleston County harmless so they would not lose money," said Hudson.

Hudson says the formula's designed to get more money where it's most needed, but frankly it's a little flawed. "Forty-eight percent of the children in our district are in the free and reduced lunch program, so to look at the property values and the income, you have two very different sets of numbers."

The legislation still has to make it through the state Senate, so Beaufort County hopes to get the budget tweaked before it's passed there.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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