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Education Reform Bill Passes

Rep. Garry Smith during House proceedings

After ten months of preparation and research the comprehensive education reform bill passed by a vote of 113-4. Thirteen bipartisan amendments were added to the bill that will now go to the Senate. I am proud of all of the people who contributed, provided input and made this piece of legislation into a true reform bill. Here are some highlights from the bill, asterisks (*) are amendments:

  • Increasing the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000. EVERY teacher will receive a raise, an average of 4.8%, with a goal of moving teacher pay to the national average within 5 years.
  • Making sure third graders who are promoted to the next grade can read by revising definitions and exemptions in the 2014 Read to Succeed law.
  • Requiring school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.
  • Dissolving school districts that have four consecutive years of failing scores.
  • Eliminating three standardized tests for students.
  • Requiring school boards to adopt ethics policies and training.
  • *Giving teachers daily, 30-minute planning periods.
  • *Renaming the bill, the S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act.
  • *Incentivizing teachers who live and work in rural, high-poverty school districts a refundable income tax credit equal to 100 percent of their property taxes for up to five years
  • *Defining the Student Bill of Rights so that unmet goals do not open the door for legal action.♦

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