S.203 – Provides criteria for school district consolidation
S.203 would create a new series of criteria for school district consolidation. Specifically, if any school district met two of the following conditions, it would be consolidated:
- The district has an average student population of less than 1,500
- The district contains a school with an accreditation status of “probation” or “denied”
- The district is deemed financially at risk by the Department of Education
- The district has an unfavorable risk assessment, or if one of its schools have been in improvement status for three years
Technically, this bill would codify a policy inserted in last year’s budget as a proviso. The key difference, however, is that under the proviso, the Superintendent of Education has discretion whether to pursue consolidation. Under this bill, consolidation would be mandatory.
South Carolina spends millions on duplicative administrative positions that could be used in the classroom, and district consolidation is one of the simplest ways to cut education costs. Consolidation in a single rural district saved roughly $600,000 last year, and a study by the Department of Education found that it could save tens of millions over a five-year period. This bill would help eliminate wasteful spending in the education system.