Creating the Education Facility Authority
H.4776 would create the South Carolina Education Facility Authority to “select and assist in the provision of financial assistance for the construction or enhancement of school facilities to school districts.” The authority would be governed by a board made up of nine directors:
- One member from each congressional district elected by the General Assembly in a joint session,
- One at-large member appointed by the Governor
- And one at-large member appointed by the State Treasurer
Elected directors would serve four year terms, and appointed directors would serve terms coterminous with those of their appointing authority.
The Authority would have the power to issue South Carolina Education Facility Revenue Bonds on its own terms to finance educational facilities in South Carolina school districts. The funds generated from the issuance of these bonds would be distributed to the school districts based on the formula laid out in existing SC Code section 59-144-100(A) (school facilities assistance allocation).
School districts would also be eligible to receive additional bond funds worth ten percent of their initial Education Facility Revenue Bond allocation if they:
- Combine non-instructional functions with another school district in such a way that reduces their expenses on such functions by 25 percent, or
- If the school district is a new district that resulted from the consolidation of one or more school districts in a county which occurred after this law takes effect.
This is yet another education bill premised on the concept that more funding is the central ingredient necessary to improve education in South Carolina. Of course this concept is directly contradicted by evidence on both the state and national level which shows no positive correlation between increased educational funding and student achievement. To make matters worse this bill provides this new funding through debt. South Carolina already has $10 billion in non-general obligation debt, and another $10 billion in local government debt, not to mention billions in unfunded public pension liabilities.
The last thing South Carolina needs is more debt, particularly when that debt will be incurred to finance a broken system that has a demonstrated inability to put new funds to good use.