School Board Administrators: don’t give teachers transparency!

To: SCSBA Members and Advocates 

From: Scott Price, SCSBA General Counsel

Re: Action Needed On School Funding Flexibility Bill

Action Needed Now

Contact Senator Kevin Bryant of Anderson County (even if he is not your senator) by emailing him atbryantk@scsenate.org or calling his office at 803.212.6024 and urge him to remove his transparency amendment from the joint resolution (H.3352) that would provide school districts funding flexibility for the current year and for 2009-10. The amendment is holding up passage of the resolution in the Senate and could also delay passage in the House if the bill winds up having to go to conference committee.

Background Summary

An objection (a legislative procedure that stops debate and vote on a bill) was placed on the funding flexibility bill during debate on Bryant’s amendment that would require school districts to post all their expenditures on their Web sites. The amendment is similar to two, “SC Truth In Spending” bills (S.229 and S.221) that currently reside in the Senate Finance Committee.

In addition, the resolution has been set for special order (calls for the bill to be debated and voted on one way or the other on a specified date that has not been determined), which could jeopardize the bill if the amendment is not removed.  

Sample Message to Sen. Bryant

Dear Sen. Bryant:

Please remove your transparency in spending amendment from the school funding flexibility joint resolution. While the amendment may have merit, it is holding up passage of flexibility schools need to efficiently manage the $387 million cut to public schools statewide in this fiscal year alone. Two other bills “SC Truth In Spending” (S.229 and S.221) that currently reside in the Senate Finance Committee would provide the measures you seek.

Local boards are struggling with developing budgets for 2009-10 and are relying on flexibility to help plan for projected lower revenues and provide a better grasp of year-end projections. Districts have taken a variety of measures to protect teaching positions and minimize the impact of budget cuts on classroom instruction. Virtually all districts have slashed administrative costs, put off building maintenance and repairs, restricted travel, eliminated student field trips, and declined to fill vacant positions.  Many districts have furloughed employees – some multiple times – and dipped into reserve funds to fill budget holes and avoid classroom cuts. With reserves depleted and other options exhausted, however, the reduced budgets to come will be felt by teachers and students in classrooms unless we are provided greater flexibility.

Allow the funding flexibility resolution as passed by the Senate Finance Committee to proceed for passage by removing your amendment now. Thank you for the opportunity to express request and for your service to the State of South Carolina. South Carolina public schools need your support.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Board Member
[School District]