Here’s a plan that would allow the Charleston County School District, which is already moving in the right direction, a thrust forward.
Let’s begin with money. There’s been much talk against tax increases, but the fact remains that all owner-occupied homes in the county pay no school taxes.
Homeowners have no financial reason to oppose a modest school tax increase.
My suggestion would be to increase the millage rate by three to five mils for the school district, with a proviso prohibiting any further increases for five years.
Part of that new funding would go to rapid expansion of kindergarten for 4-year-olds, which is scheduled to begin with five classes in the fall. Another 10 classes are proposed.
Academically, what these classes would mean is that far more kids would enter first grade better prepared to master skills for learning to read and write.
It also means less spending to overcome the literacy achievement gap in the first years of elementary school.
In the end it would significantly increase graduation rates that will significantly improve job prospects and college prospects.
Additional funding could provide modest salary increases for teachers and fund several promising proposed programs. The school board has strong leadership and a composition that is far more focused on improving education than micromanaging the budget.
A second major part of the plan would be creation of a well-planned Charleston County School District Foundation.
Although I have no children or grandchildren who reside in the county, I’m quite willing to contribute at least $100 annually to such a foundation. It’s something almost every homeowner should consider, now that he pays no school taxes.
The Legislature, prompted by endless lobbying from an East Battery homeowner, substituted a one percentage point increase in the sales tax. Its revenue has failed to keep up with inflation.
A first class public education for all of Charleston County will in the long run mean a better work force, less crime, and more customers for business.
Jack Bass, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of humanities and social sciences at the College of Charleston.