Rex to discuss looming public school budget cuts in ‘virtual faculty meeting' on Monday

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Superintendent of Education Jim Rex will answer questions from South Carolina educators concerned over looming budget cuts during a live statewide online faculty meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, March 8.

The virtual meeting will be broadcast to schools by closed-circuit Instructional TV and will also be available to schools via streaming video.  Educators are encouraged to participate in groups at their
schools and may e-mail questions before or during the program at  Questioners can choose whether to identify themselves and their schools.

Rex continues to warn legislators about both the short-term and long-term impacts of severe budget cuts on public schools.  At a budget hearing Wednesday before a Senate Finance subcommittee, the State Superintendent said that if the House Ways and Means Committee's budget proposal is approved by the full General Assembly, total budget cuts to K-12 public schools would amount to about $800 million in just two years.

Although state and federal mandates for schools would still be in place, Rex said that the resources to comply with those requirements would be stripped away.  Districts were forced to eliminate more than 1,400 teaching positions this school year, and the Ways and Means Budget would force more teacher job cuts next year.  Funds for school buses would ensure operations only through March of next school year, he said.

Rex urged senators Wednesday to raise South Carolina's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax to the national average and devote half of those revenues to public schools until budget cuts can be restored.  He also told senators that they should also consider about $1.5 billion in tax exemptions as possible sources of additional revenue.

Thousands of educators participated in Rex's previous three online meetings, which let local educators ask questions about K-12 issues or communicate their concerns directly to the State Superintendent.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.