COLUMBIA -- South Carolina legislators put on hold Wednesday measures that would require school districts to centralize some administrative tasks and use stock architectural plans for construction, but a sponsor of both bills said he succeeded in getting discussion started.
A House education subcommittee adjourned debate on the bills, so they have no chance of passing before the regular session ends next month. Rep. Don Bowen said the effort will continue next year.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais supports both ideas, though the specifics need tweaking, said his spokesman, Jay Ragley.
One measure would require counties with multiple school districts to centralize all purchasing, personnel and financial duties.
South Carolina has 85 school districts in 46 counties. Sumter County's two districts are set to merge this summer, as required by a law approved by local legislators. Spartanburg County has seven districts, the most in a single county.
Voters generally oppose district consolidation measures, and Bowen noted that residents in his county's four school districts are no different. But he said his bill would save money without requiring total consolidation.
"You don't see grocery stores with more than one home office," said Bowen, R-Anderson, a retired grocery executive.
Roger Smith, director of the state Education Association, said he sees significant advantages in bulk purchasing of school supplies and equipment, but questions centralizing financial and personnel decisions for districts that could have very different student populations.