EDITOR’S NOTE: The EOC held a full meeting yesterday at 1:00 p.m. at the Blatt Building in Columbia. Recommendations to the budget were made at this meeting. List of full recommendations can be found here.
As required by state law, the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) today approved budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2023-24. These recommendations focus on the revenues generated by the one-cent sales tax, the Education Improvement Act. The committee’s recommendations prioritize the need to focus on unfinished learning brought about by the pandemic.
In addition to recommending funds be allocated to efforts related to college- and career-readiness and teacher recruitment and retention, the committee was also mindful of the need to hold funds in reserve should the state face an economic downturn in future years. These recommendations will be forwarded to the Governor and General Assembly for their consideration in the upcoming budget deliberations.
Members met throughout the fall, reviewing and hearing comment from programs on budget needs and priorities. In Fiscal Year 2023-24, the penny sales tax is expected to generate an estimated $1.153 billion dollars dedicated solely to public education. The represents an increase of $148.7 million dollars, which are available to improve the quality of public education. For Fiscal Year 2022-23, the current fiscal year, there is also a surplus of $252.3 million of non-recurring dollars.
“Student academic performance – particularly the declines we have seen in math performance – remained the primary focus of the subcommittee as it established priorities,” stated Dr. Bob Couch, chair of the subcommittee that brought forth the recommendations to the EOC and principal of Anderson Institute of Technology, an upstate Career Center. “We are fortunate to now have state resources to devote to helping students recover the lost learning that the pandemic brought about. That should be our first priority.”
In its recommendations, the EOC suggested that the non-recurring dollars from the current year’s budget be allocated to high-dose tutoring in English and math, an evidence-based practice that has proven results with students who are struggling academically.
“This recommendation of $17.6 million would provide tutoring for 47,000 students during a school year,” stated Couch. “The tutoring model, successful in Tennessee, utilizes individuals trained in the curriculum and instructional strategies to help students.”
The Committee’s budget recommendations for EIA revenues are summarized as follows:
Unfinished Learning from Pandemic
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Couch stated that the committee also approved a recommendation of $7.1 million to provide financial awards for schools who receive Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards. The awards program, created and outlined in the Education Accountability Act (EAA), is designed to “recognize and reward schools for academic achievement and for closing the achievement gap.”