York County school district administrators hold joint meeting, advocate for school funding

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) -The state of South Carolina is sitting on a surplus of money.

Now, school district leaders say it is time to earmark some of that money for teacher pay raises and more per-student funding for schools.

It is a few billion dollars and legislators are headed back to Columbia to discuss how it should be used, but the legislators are not headed back before hearing from the people who say they have been waiting to be funded for years.

York County district leaders met with state legislators today in a rare all-hands-on-deck meeting.

The purpose of the meeting, held at Fort Mill School’s training facility building, is to get state legislators and York County school district decision-makers in the same room to give updates and air out concerns.

These joint meetings typically happen every three to four years.

During the discussion, school administrators push for legislators to bring up issues in the General Assembly that affect students in the classroom.

On the agenda Friday was student base pay funding, teacher raises, sustainability for programs funded by ESSER money and impact fees.

The four districts—York One, Fort Mill, Rock Hill and Clover School—all decide the agenda based on what every school district in the area needs.

The school districts’ administrators plead their case to the legislators pushing for them to help fund classroom needs like teacher assistants and mental health programs.

Rock Hill Board Chair Helena Miller says meetings like this one help get important issues into the faces of the people who can help make the decision to fund them.

”I think any time you have the time to be in the room together you can have those frank conversations and I think that’s great,” said Miller.

“The money’s here this year,” said Senator Mike Fanning.

That was Fanning’s motto at the York County School Districts’ joint meeting Friday afternoon.

He and three other state representatives met with school administrators representing all four York County school districts to discuss what issues they want to see brought up in Columbia.

”Just because we’re all in York County does not mean that we’re the same,” says Miller.

There was one issue all four districts did agree on—funding.

Miller says given Fanning’s ‘money’s here’ motto, the districts want to see teachers get paid more. They also want the money to fully fund the schools per students rate, something that has not gotten any funding in 13 years.

”We really picked what topics were highest on our priority list. Our goal is to really work collaboratively to do what’s best for all the students in York County,” she says.

The school administrators are hopeful considering Fanning says a bustling SC economy means there is money to spend.

”Now at a time where we have more money than we’ve ever had before that is a shame that we’re not prioritizing the students,” says Fanning.

Not only students but also teachers and staff who are owed a raise, something they could not get because of COVID.

”We need to honor the promise we made to teachers and pay them the national average especially when we have the money to do so,” says Fanning.

Fanning says not only the people in this room but also the parents and community need to hold them accountable for the promises made.

”If we don’t prioritize teachers and these students in this budget you need to vote us out of office. You need to hold us accountable,” he says.

Miller says she and school leaders are ready to continue the work, believing that the state representatives are willing to hold up their part of the bargain.

”There are things that if it wasn’t for the relationship that we have we would be in much worse shape than we are,” she says.

The General Assembly is back in session on Tuesday.

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