BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - The learning environment will improve for students and teachers will get higher salaries in the Lowcountry if one state senator gets his way.
Senator Tom Davis, of Beaufort County, said one of his main goals in this year's session is getting more money back to the Lowcountry school districts. Right now, Beaufort County schools receive the least amount of state money per student statewide.
This revelation comes as more and more students are filling Beaufort County classrooms every year. Davis said the money from the state is not following the same trend.
"We're collecting enough money from South Carolinians and putting it in the system of public education. We're just not delivering the outcomes that the people deserve," said Davis, a Republican representing Beaufort and Jasper counties.
This is one of Davis's biggest priorities this year for two reasons.
"[One], getting a more equitable share of that money back to my constituents who have sent it up there in the first place," Davis said. "[Two], making sure more of that money gets into the classroom, paying good teachers, quality instruction material—things that actually make a difference in a child's life."
When it comes to state funding per student, the estimated state average for 2017-2018 is just over $6,000. The estimate for Jasper County is $6,185 per student. The Hampton 1 district is estimated at $6,785. Hampton 2 is estimated to get $8,445 per student. Beaufort County is expected to receive almost half that amount at $4,656 per student.
"High growth areas are penalized across the state of South Carolina with the structure that we have in place for funding public education," said Beaufort County School Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Moss.
The school district is making proposals at the local level to build new schools for the rapidly growing district. The superintendent said the state money pays for operational costs that come around every year.
"You have to put teachers in those rooms. You have to run buses. You have to do the heating and air payment every month," Moss said.
"We're training our leaders of tomorrow. We're going ahead and guaranteeing them a livelihood and hopefully keeping them in the area if we deliver a quality product," Davis said.
Dr. Moss said in years prior, Beaufort County received no state funding for their schools. On average, South Carolina teachers make about $6,000 less annually than Georgia teachers.