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Schools ask for leeway in spending

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By Jesef Williams

The local school district has joined the growing chorus of school districts in asking for leeway from the state in addressing budget shortfalls.

The local school board passed a resolution last week that asks the General Assembly for program and spending flexibility.

The vote was 6-0. Board member Janice Dabney was absent.

More than 30 other school districts have passed similar resolutions, which argue that each district should be given the freedom to use money for uses different from what they had been designated, said Duane Cooper, advocacy coordinator for the S.C. School Board Association.

Because of less funding, a district could take money reserved for transportation and allocate it for salaries or special programs, for example, Cooper said.

All 85 school districts in the state have been asked to pass the resolution. Cooper said the plan is for the districts to present the resolutions to their state representatives in hopes that the General Assembly will relax spending regulations during the economic downturn.

“It helps to protect the classroom,” Cooper said. “This frees them (districts) up to allocate money toward other uses.”

The measure would also allow districts to alter the way students complete their 180-day requirements (possibly four-day weeks instead of five) or to not spend money on standardized tests not tied to federal requirements, for example.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152