Thanks!

I wanted to express my personal thanks to Dr. Mary Catherine Norwood, Ms. Amy McLester, and Ms. Liz Horton for helping us with the interviews and classroom visits for our Teacher of the Year candidates.  I hope they enjoyed the experience as much as we enjoyed having them in our schools!

Chamber Legislative Breakfast

I attended the annual Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast this morning.  The panel included Governor Mark Sanford, Congressman John Spratt, Senator Vincent Sheheen, Senator Joel Lourie, Representative Anton Gunn, and Representative Laurie Funderburk.  Although Congressman Spratt focused on federal issues, the major focus of the discussion and questions was the state budget and the impact of additional impending state budget cuts on education.  There was also much discussion about the need to restructure the state’s tax system.

As I have taken a look at the budget that has passed the House Ways and Means Committee, the sheer magnitude of the cuts to education and other public services is difficult to completely fathom.  There has been a lot of discussion about Base Student Cost being back at the levels of the mid-1990s.  But this example might provide some concrete sense of what this means in practical terms.  The funding in the House Ways and Means Budget for school bus transportation has been cut to a point that if the state and local school districts simply provide the same services as this year, the funding for transportation would run out after 122 days of school.

There’s obviously a lot of legislative process left.  I hope folks will get involved.

“Race To The Top”

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that South Carolina is one of 15 states and the District of Columbia designated as finalists to possibly receive federal “Race to the Top” funding.  Although there’s still a long way to go in this competition and nothing is assured, this speaks strongly to the work South Carolina has done over the past 10 years to raise standards and significantly raise student achievement.  Even if our state got these funds, it probably wouldn’t have impact on 2010-11, but it is still excellent news.

Census

At its last meeting, the School Board passed a resolution in support of the census, which will be beginning shortly.  As Board member Mara Jones discussed at the meeting, getting everyone in our community counted has tremendous impact on federal funding that comes to our community and to our state.  In the past, undercounting has resulted in a lot of funding that should have come to South Carolina going to other states.  The school district will do everything possible to support this effort.