|Rex to promote funding reforms|
By Diette Courrégé , The Post and Courier
S.C. Education Superintendent Jim Rex will spend the next 10 days on a statewide back-to-school tour aimed at ramping up grassroots support for reforming the state's funding formula for schools.
Ensuring fair and adequate funding for schools was a key promise of Rex's during his campaign for office, and in order to make that happen, the state also needs to take a "comprehensive look at its antiquated tax system," he said.
"The time to act is long past, and we simply have to act now as a state," Rex said.
Lawmakers are moved to action when they hear from their constituents at home, rather than from him or the media, Rex said. "I'm hopeful we can get that kind of support," he said.
The 3 percent across-the-board budget cuts approved earlier this week only emphasize the need for funding reform, he said. The Education Department was hit the hardest and will have to cut $73 million.
Rex's tour begins in Spartanburg today, but he'll make an appearance at the Hootie and the Blowfish concert in Charleston. In addition to raising awareness about the need for funding reform, Rex plans to recognize the band as a Palmetto Ambassador for Education, the first recipient of this new honor that Rex created for those who make extraordinary contributions to the state's public schools.
On Saturday, he will join Hootie and the Blowfish at Burke High School at 1:30 p.m. to help distribute school supplies. Rex also will host a live edition of the "In Our Schools" program that will focus on school funding reform on SCETV at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Rex plans to ask residents to get behind the effort to change the state's constitution from requiring that it provide a free public education system to mandating that it offer a "high-quality education, allowing each student to reach his highest potential." An online campaign and petition has started to collect 1 million South Carolinians' signatures in support of the change. "I think it's important and not just symbolism," Rex said.
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