State budget affects local schools

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County School District will likely cut 17 million dollars from the budget for the upcoming school year, based on the South Carolina budget approved Thursday.

The district plans to leave vacant positions open, which will result in fewer employees in the district. Programs from fine arts to athletics, and gifted to early childhood education may also be trimmed. These are just a few of the ideas being considered for cuts.

"The children are the ones who are losing on this," parent Charline Web said.

Her son attends Myrtle Beach Middle School.

The cuts make Misty Brigham think about how her child's classes will be affected. Her daughter Christian is a student at Ocean Bay Elementary.

"They don't need to start putting 30 to 40 students per classroom like has been talked about because that lowers my child's education," Brigham said.

School board member Joe DeFeo believes the cuts in Horry County are worse than they have to be because of the state's funding formula. Some counties send more sales tax dollars to the state than they get back for education. Horry is one of those counties, called donors. Some say the system works because it ensures counties in less developed areas get the funding they need. DeFeo says the system is too slanted at taking from counties like Horry.

"We have a state legislature that calls themselves conservative, but they have not problem redistributing wealth throughout the state," DeFeo said. "Horry County and Charleston and other counties don't have problem sharing in the wealth that we have here, but not to the degree that this state takes our money and spends it elsewhere."

Brigham and Webb said they feel the system does not take into consideration counties like Horry that are growing quickly. They say they would like see Horry County get back a larger share of what it contributes to the state.

"I would like to see a more equitable distribution based on the contributions that are made on the taxes per county and per capita of the students," Webb said.

Defeo says he and other school board members hope for reform, but for now the cuts are a reality in Horry County.  Even more cuts are expected for the 2011-2012 school year when federal stimulus money runs dry.

The school board is scheduled to make a final vote on the budget on Monday.

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