Education officials say South Carolina may not qualify for $143 million in federal assistance for public education. Spokesman for the State Education Department Jim Foster says the state no longer meets the minimum higher education funding requirements because the way of measuring funding changed, when officials begin considering the public education and higher education individually. Foster says the problem is that the state’s funding of higher education is almost $111 million short of federal requirements due to budget cuts.
Federal government estimates indicate that the $143 million would save almost 2,300 teacher jobs in South Carolina. But Foster says the lack of certainty over the federal dollars is not likely to hurt most schools until next year, when most districts had planned to use the money to avoid more layoffs.
South Carolina is one of seven states that have failed to meet funding requirements.
Foster says Congressman James Clyburn is working with federal officials this week to find a solution.
State superintendent of education Jim Rex has been in touch with our congressional delegation. We’re making contact with other states to find out which ones are in a similar situation. And we’ve also had contact with the national association of all the education chiefs. We’re hopeful that we can make some changes to the language so that South Carolina and these other states can qualify.
The president signed the funding bill last week for additional education program dollars, legislation which also included billions in funding for state Medicaid funding.