RELEASE: Excel National Commends South Carolina Legislature for Quality Education Investments
Tax credit scholarships and reading coaches funded through the state budget
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Patricia Levesque, Executive Director for Excellence in Education National (@Excel_National), issued the following statement on the South Carolina legislature’s passage of a 2015-2016 budget that included a significant funding increase for the state’s Read to Succeed program and an expansion of and key improvements to the state’s Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Program (ECENC).
“The South Carolina legislature’s funding decisions demonstrate their commitment to ensuring all students have the assistance they need to read at grade level, and affirm their support for expanding educational choice, especially for the most vulnerable students. Proficient reading ability and choice in education will lead to student success in academics and life. We commend Governor Nikki Haley and the legislature for their steadfast support of improving education so that Palmetto State students of all learning abilities have the opportunity to attain a bright future.”
Facts about Read to Succeed:
- The Read to Succeed Act was signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley on June 11, 2014.
- The Read to Succeed Act is a comprehensive K-3 reading policy that helps to ensure all students read on grade level by the end of third grade.
- The policy consists of early identification of struggling readers, parent notification and involvement, intervention to assist struggling readers, teacher training and reading coach support and, as a last resort, third grade retention with more intensive interventions.
- The legislature included an additional $10 million in funding for reading coaches for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, bringing total reading coach funding to $39 million.
- Lawmakers also included an additional $1.5 million for summer reading camps, on top of $6 million in existing funding.
- These funds will provide more teacher support to improve reading instruction and intervention in all classrooms, with the goal of all students reading on grade level by the end of third grade.
Facts about the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (ECENC):
- The ECENC enables Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) to award grants of up to $10,000 to qualified children with special needs.
- Donors to SFOs receive a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit of up to 60 percent of their tax liability, with an annual cap of $8 million in credits.
- The state budget extends the ECENC Program, maintaining the current $8 million in eligible tax credits for donations to SFOs and adding an additional $4 million in refundable tax credits of up to $10,000 per student that families may claim directly for tuition expenses for their child with exceptional needs.
- The budget also includes provisions that increase accountability and oversight of SFOs participating in the program.