A Senate panel narrowly advanced a bill on Thursday requiring South Carolina's school districts to teach students how to write in cursive by fifth grade after questioning its $27.6 million price tag.

Senators sent it to the full Education Committee on a 3-2 vote. The budget office estimated last month that districts would have to spend $25 million on instructional materials and $2.5 million on travel for teacher training.

Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, said that's ridiculous, since every elementary school teacher should know how to write in cursive.

"How much is it to put a banner across a classroom, give them a pad of paper and say, 'We're cursive writing today?' It seems to me that's a defensive item," he said.

A Department of Education spokesman said later Thursday there was a miscalculation with the estimate, and a revision should be much lower.

State standards haven't required cursive writing in the classroom since 2008. It is unclear how many districts opt to teach it to elementary school students.

The House passed the measure 92-10 last month. The Senate subcommittee changed the mandate's effective date by one year, to require the instruction starting in 2015-16.