Friday, March 9, 2012

Florence 1 votes against vouchers, bus privatization

They're only resolutions that express the school board's consensus views on issues being considered at the State House, but the two statements adopted last night by the Florence 1 school board ought to be considered by the rest of our elected school boards.

Florence School District 1 trustees Thursday night at their monthly meeting took a stand against legislation that would provide tax breaks for students who attend non-public schools and school bus privatization.

Members approved resolutions in February and Thursday night voted to send the written objections to the Florence County Legislative Delegation.

House bill 4894 would provide deductions for homeschooled children, children attending private schools and for public school students who attend a school outside their district beginning in the 2013.

The bill would also allow tax credits for contributors to qualified, non-profit scholarship funding organizations for low-income students and exceptional students.

This bill would allow parents to claim the deduction in 2012-2013. The estimated fiscal impact to the general fund, according to the House Ways and Means Committee, would be a reduction of $36.7 million in fiscal 2012-2013. The bill, which has more than 60 sponsors, passed through the committee on Thursday.

“I have a sense of alarm because of the economics,” Porter Stewart, board chairman, said. ‘There’s been a great diminution of state revenues and has greatly impacted the public sector.”

The board also passed a resolution against the South Carolina School Bus Privatization Act of 2012.

House bill 4610 would move pupil transportation services from the state Department of Education to the districts. School districts would have the choice of taking on those responsibilities, forming a consortium with other districts or contracting the transportation services.

The resolution board members passed said it will require $6.2 million to fund the daily operations for the bus shop and transportation of Florence District One, should it assume responsibilities. The board also acknowledged that national and state studies on the claimed economic benefits of privatization are still unproven.

The resolutions serve as a way to show Columbia where the district stands, something Stewart said is necessary.

“It’s our duty to voice concern over issues that may negatively impact the best interests of our students,” Stewart said.


  1. Florence School District 1 trustees are costs more to operate SC public school buses than most districts can afford...even after raising the millage and increasing their constituents tax bills.

    If Florence cannot affort it, how will Allendale County and other poor counties afford it?

    The state run system is the most efficient and safely run system in the country....many studies have demonstrated this. In addition, the private contractor in Mount Pleasant did the same job state employees did but for $200,000 more! Also, many buses maiuntained by the contractor were on the road with children on board running bald tires. Is this what counties want?

    The costs that districts will encounter are great. A 7.3 diesel engine replacement costs $4000 plus the labor to install. A CAT 3116 engine costs $10,000 plus the cost of installation. Districts cannot afford to pay these costs themselves or afford to pay a contractor for these costs plus the contractors profit margin!

    So, kudos to Florence 1 trustees, for seeing that they are being handed a "bill of goods."