COLUMBIA, SC — State schools Superintendent Mick Zais wants school districts to give teachers raises, and is asking for more state money for classrooms and school buses.
Zais, a first-term Republican, told a S.C. House budget panel Wednesday that he wants the state to require its 82 school districts to give teachers raises this year.
State law requires districts to raise teacher pay each year. But, during the recession, the General Assembly allowed districts to request a waiver from giving those raises from the state Board of Education, education spokesman Jay W. Ragley said.
In 2012, three districts applied for a waiver, Ragley said. Two were denied. The third was granted a waiver but did not exercise it.
Zais said the districts have flexibility to pay for teacher raises and other programs, adding, “Far too often, we give administrators raises and shortchange the teachers.”
Last year, the General Assembly also gave teachers a 2 percent raise above the state-required annual raise.
Zais also asked lawmakers for an additional $19.5 million for K-12 education in the state’s budget that takes effect July 1. That added money would go to keep the base student cost – the minimum amount the state pays each district per student – at $2,012 a student after accounting for an increased number of students in S.C. schools. However, that figure is below the $2,771 a student that the state should be spending, according to state law.
Zais’ budget request also includes:
• An additional $19.1 million for instructional materials, including textbooks
• More than $12 million in unclaimed lottery prize money and an additional $34 million to buy more new buses
• $11.8 million more to maintain about 1,100 school buses with warranties expiring in July, leaving that expense entirely to the state. Nearly 4,700, or 93 percent, of the state’s school buses have no warranties.
The Education Department recently purchased 342 new school buses for $28 million to replace its oldest buses, upgrading 6.8 percent of its fleet.
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