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Help for Rural S.C. Schools Likely Delayed Another Year

A plan to improve South Carolina's poor and rural schools will most likely be delayed another year as state lawmakers take more time to determine the details of the proposed legislation, according to The State.

The proposal calls for the state to borrow $200 million a year to then help school districts improve decrepit school facilities. Currently, school districts must rely on local tax base money for construction projects, which puts poor school districts at a disadvantage. State senators announced Wednesday that the legislation, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley and passed the House in April, is unlikely to move forward before the legislative session ends in June. Instead, lawmakers approved $1.5 million for a study that will determine which poor and mostly rural school districts most need the funding.

The legislative attention to poor and rural districts is in response to a 2014 state Supreme Court order, which called for officials and school districts to determine ways to improve struggling low-income schools in the state.  That order was the result of a lawsuit on behalf of more than two-dozen poor and rural school districts, which claimed the state had failed to provide a "minimally adequate" education for their students due to a lack of funds for poor and rural districts. Since that ruling, officials and lawmakers have proposed various solutions including raising teacher salaries and consolidating schools, but little change has occurred.

According to The State, lawmakers plan to reintroduce the construction funding legislation next year.

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