Published: January 6, 2005
South Carolina’s school finance system is in court. The case of Abbeville County School District v. State alleges that students in rural schools are not receiving an adequate education. The South Carolina School Boards Association conducted an adequacy study using the “professional judgment” method. The study found that South Carolina would need to add about $3 billion to the education system. South Carolina pays for education primarily through its Education Finance Act, which is a foundation formula. The base cost per student is $1,754 in fiscal 2005. On average, the state provides 70 percent of the total base cost, with the local share determined by each district’s fiscal capacity. The state share ranges from 17 percent in the wealthiest district to 92 percent in the district with the least property wealth. Local districts must provide their share of the foundation formula to receive state aid. Money is adjusted using weights for students in different grades, special education students, vocational education students, early-childhood education, and adult education. South Carolina also provides money to schools through categorical aid. Almost $538 million was allocated through 35 categorical programs in fiscal 2004. The five largest programs in the state provide money for academic assistance, transportation, class-size reduction, gifted-and-talented education, and additional required high school credits.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 72