As many Midlands students returned to school today, about 50 people gathered outside the state Department of Education building to protest the state’s decision not to pursue $144 million in federal money to pay for education jobs.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said he would not apply for the money because it is one-time funding that would disappear after a year. “This (money) creates a $144 million budget hole in a year’s time when we have no idea what the economy is going to do next year,” said J.W. Ragley, Zais’ spokesman.
Plus, Zais said South Carolina does not qualify for the money, so he could not apply for it even if he wanted to. The state does not qualify because it does not spend enough on higher education, Ragley said.
Today is the deadline to apply for the money. If South Carolina does not apply, its portion will be divided up among the other states.
“We don’t qualify, but we needed a leader who would get us qualified and it could have been done if there had been a little leadership,” said Molly Spearman, executive director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators.