EOC Makes Policy and Budget Recommendations for 2014-15
The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) is an independent, non-partisan group made up of 18 educators, business persons, and elected leaders. Created in 1998, the committee is dedicated to reporting facts, measuring change, and promoting progress within South Carolina’s education system. The EOC budget recommendations for 2014-15 are designed to accelerate improvements in students and school performance by better preparing students for success in careers or in postsecondary education.
Committee members annually make recommendations for the spending of Education Improvement Act (EIA) funds, which are generated by the penny sales tax. In November, the Board of Economic Advisors projected that the EIA will generate $645 million in total revenues in fiscal year 2014-15, an increase of $17.8 million from the current base funding.
“These public funds should be targeted to the needs of students,” said Dennis Drew, chairman of the subcommittee that brought initial recommendations to the full committee Monday. “The ultimate goal of the system is for all children to be college, career, and life ready, and these recommendations consider the long-term academic success of each child in the public school system.”
“Our job is not done when a student receives a diploma and walks across the stage,” added Drew. “We need to make certain that the K-12 system is providing students with what they need in order to be successful once they leave high school.”
Highlights of the recommendations, which now head to the General Assembly and the Governor for consideration during next year’s legislative session, include:
• Student College and Career Readiness: Create a new center that will provide educators with the tools they need to help students leave high school prepared for college and careers. The committee recommended an increase of $250,000 to create a new Center of Excellence to provide professional development to teachers to develop innovative practices in classrooms. The professional development will focus on providing a more seamless transition for students from K-12 to college and employment.
• Technology: Increase funding for the K-12 Technology Initiative
The committee recommended an increase of $30 million for technology, $10 million of the money coming from EIA funds. For the past five years, the General Assembly has appropriated $10.2 million for technology with the result being a significant investment in bandwidth for schools. With the increased bandwidth in school buildings, there is an urgent need to provide high-capacity wireless access points in schools to handle the expansion of wireless devices currently used to instruct and assess students.
“With the increase in one-to-one computing initiatives, the expansion of online assessments, and the increased usage of technology in the instruction of students, there is a critical need to upgrade the wireless capabilities of schools,” said Drew. “Just as we as a society have moved toward wireless devices, schools no longer need hard-wired ports in the classroom.”
• Leaders: Increase funding for principal leadership training
Recognizing that sustained leadership is critical to improved student performance, EOC members recommended a $129,000 increase in EIA funds to expand the number of principals in the South Carolina School Leadership Executive Institute from 20 to 40.
The EOC also recommended that funds appropriated for the PSAT/PLAN assessments in the, which were redirected to the EFA during the economic downturn, be restored to improve the college and career readiness of students.
Additionally, to improve reading proficiency, the EOC recommended that the state adopt and implement a readiness assessment for all children in prekindergarten and kindergarten.
“A mandatory readiness assessment is necessary for early identification of children who come to school with deficits. The earlier we can intervene, the better,” said Drew. “It is also necessary to measure the impact and effectiveness of the Child Development Education Pilot Program.”
According to Drew, supporting teaching and learning experiences for all children should be the top priority of the education system. He reiterated that the subcommittee kept this in mind during their discussions.
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