One amendment features an additional five days to start the school year
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —A bill that calls for changes in education across the state is on its way to the Senate Floor.
The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously Thursday to give a favorable review of the bill to their colleagues, setting up a larger debate once the legislature returns to session.]
The committee discussed the bill and added amendments to it for more than two hours, but the one item that received a considerable amount of air-time was the addition five extra days to the school year.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield County), who proposed the amendment, says it gives schools an opportunity to complete a full semester by Christmas.
“It allows for better planning for folks. I understand that no one wants to go to school in the summer. I wouldn’t want to go to school that early either, but if we’re going to have a 180 day calendar, there’s no way that you could complete the first two before what everyone thinks is the midway point of the year,” Sen. Massey said.
The additional five days would cost $91 million, giving teachers a slight pay increase for having to work a longer year.
Some Senators questioned if this would use up the $3,000 pay raise recently proposed by Governor Henry McMaster in his upcoming budget.
Senator Massey says this $91 million plan will be implemented alongside the $211 million used for the proposed teacher pay raises.
Still, some Senators say they will fight for higher teacher salaries when they return to the Senate chambers in January.
“That 2.6% covering the five days. If you want a meaningful teacher pay increase, you’ve got to give them more than 2.6%. That’s a decision we’ll make on the floor, when we take up teacher pay raises. This is only ‘are we going to add five days, and are we going to pay them.’ I think that’s fair,” said Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg County).
SC for Ed, an organization instrumental in gathering 10,000 teachers together on the State House steps in May and in calling for education reform, released a statement saying while they appreciate the addition of five unencumbered days and an earlier start of the school year (two things they called for in their legislative agenda), say they still can’t support Senate Bill 419 in its current form.
“Our goal is to have S.419 put aside until it is gutted and shaped by practicing educators, who are the only true experts on the current needs of SC kids. Let us be clear that while we appreciate the legislature listening to our needs, it cannot be at the expense of the children in our state,” the statement says in part.
The Senate returns to session on January 14.
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