South Carolina House approves charter schools bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A bill designed to increase the number of charter schools in South Carolina has moved ahead in the legislature.

The House approved the measure 85-32 on Wednesday. It requires another perfunctory vote before heading to the Senate. The measure was designed to provide more money for schools organized under the statewide charter school district.

"By passing this bill, the House clearly voiced its support for our public charter schools and the students who attend them," said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. "Education funding should be directly focused and tied to the needs of individual students in the classroom."Advocates say they don't receive enough to operate. The 11 schools get state and federal, but no local, money.

The original bill required school districts to send local taxes to charter students within their borders. But district officials said it's unfair to force them to part with the money amid deep budget cuts.

Lawmakers agreed to a change that leaves the funding to the state. The amount would be up to legislators each year.

House Education & Public Works Committee Chairman, Phil Owens said, "Local communities have worked very hard to provide parents with the choice of alternative public school options like charter schools and virtual schools.  If a parent chooses one of these alternative education options for their child, adequate public education dollars should follow that student to his new public school."

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