Delegation Requests Change In School Funding Formula

By Betsy Finklea
The Dillon County Legislative Delegation has requested that the school funding formula for the districts be changed.
This request was presented to the Dillon County Board of Education on Tuesday morning.
Currently, the local money that funds the districts goes into one pot and is divided per pupil so that each district is funded on a per pupil basis.
The delegation has requested the following in a letter to Dillon County Board of Education Chairman Richard Schafer:
“The Dillon County Legislative Delegation requests that the school funding formula be based on the assessed valuation for each of the individual school districts in Dillon County so that we will follow the same method as all of the other school districts in the state.We proposed that all local funding be based on the assessed valuation of each district within this county.”
The Herald had calls out on Wednesday to determine if this is the same method used by all of the other school districts in the state, but was not able to get an answer to this by press time. The Herald was also trying to determine whether this method is mandated by state law or statute.
According to the Dillon County Board of Education Office, this change would reduce the amount of local funding by approximately $100,000 in the Lake View School District (Dillon District One) and would reduce the amount of local funding by approximately $300,000 in the Latta School District (Dillon District Three). This change would increase the amount of funding to Dillon District Two by approximately $400,000.
Rep. Jackie Hayes said that this move would be an attempt to get the way local funding is distributed in line with everybody else. He says that Dillon is the only county where school districts are  distributing the funding per pupil. When asked, Hayes said he did not know what effect this would have on next year’s proposed budgets for the individual districts, which were submitted at Tuesday’s county board meeting for consideration, but said the budgets are not approved until they go to the county board. The budgets are due to be discussed by the county board at their July 20th meeting.
Senator Kent Williams said that when one has lots of industries and businesses in their district, they have a much  stronger tax base and money readily available to provide core government services. He said when we get into a troubled, slow economy like we are in right now and don’t have  the tax base and get state and federal cuts, people start looking at ways to increase revenue or cut services. He said some people discovered some inequity in funding across the school districts and the law says that the school districts shall be funded based on the tax assessed value, not per pupil. Williams said he didn’t know how it had been done on a per pupil basis this long.
Senator Dick Elliott said that this move was to try to improve the situation and that the Dillon County Schools should be treated as other successful school districts across the state are treated.
At the Dillon County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday,  Chairman Richard Schafer said that he had instructed the county board’s business manager to take this directive and act accordingly. Schafer said that this takes effect July 1st. The board took no vote on the issue.

The members of the County Delegation are:

• Rep. Jackie Hayes
• Sen. Kent Williams
• Sen. Dick Elliott

The members of the Dillon County Board of Education are:

• Richard Schafer,
• James Calvin McRae,
• Tim Faulk
• Antonia Graves
• Sylvia Griffin
• John Best
• Varion Mason
• Jimmy Sweatt
• Nancy G. Finklea
• Carl Altman