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Funds totaling nearly $56 million approved for school improvements in 48 districts

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Nearly $56 million in funds allotted by the General Assembly has been approved by the S.C. Board of Education to be used for school improvement projects in 48 districts.

The Legislature allocated $55.8 million to upgrades in the plaintiff districts in the landmark Abbeville County School District vs. State of South Carolina court case or districts with a poverty index of 80% or higher.

All 48 districts that applied for the funding were deemed eligible. Each district received nearly $1.2 million.

Applications listed districts’ top three capital improvement project requests, which were required to address health and safety, technology, career education or maintenance needs. Eligible projects included classrooms, libraries, media centers, labs, cafeterias and physical education spaces.

The requests were analyzed using facility assessments completed by third-party contractors hired and paid for by the state earlier this year.

“Many of South Carolina’s schools do not have the local revenue available to make substantial safety and infrastructure improvements, and these funds will go a long way in improving conditions in those areas,” S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a statement. “By allotting this funding to the Abbeville districts, the General Assembly has shown a commitment to improving outcomes and conditions in those areas.”

The S.C. Supreme Court dismissed the General Assembly from Abbeville case, initially filed in 1993, last week.

The case questioned whether the Legislature provides enough money for poor school districts without the tax base of wealthier ones, spawning the moniker “Corridor of Shame” after a documentary of that name probed the issue. In 2014, the state high court ruled South Carolina had failed to provide students in the state’s poorest districts a “minimally adequate” education.

Friday’s 3-2 ruling ended the court’s oversight of legislative efforts to improve education funding.

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