More than a year after South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to find ways to improve education in the state’s poorest, rural school districts, the legislative session will most likely end in Columbia without a bill to meet that mandate passing the Senate.
The state House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate in April. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, urged senators this week to try to pass the bill before the legislative sessions ends. But Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman indicated Wednesday he does not expect senators to have enough time to pass the bill with little more than a week remaining in this year’s session, according to the State newspaper,
The bill is expected to be re-introduced next year, the start of a new two-year legislative session.
Lawmakers did approve $1.5 million in the next state budget to study the building needs of poor and rural schools. That audit is the first step toward deciding which school districts have the greatest need for state money to construct building.
The court’s order on potential legislative solutions came a few months after its 2015 ruling in favor of a nearly 20-year-old lawsuit by the Abbeville County School Districts against the state. The court order initially included a hard deadline last year, but the justices removed the deadline after lawmakers complained the window was too small.