Anita Huggins, Charleston County School District Superintendent

Charleston County School District 2K25 Proposed Budget

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(Charleston, SC) — Charleston County School District Superintendent Anita Huggins is proposing a school funding formula as part of the district’s 2025 budget that is unprecedented in South Carolina. Many school officials say the Weighted Student Funding formula could significantly close the achievement gap between Black students and other students. That’s been said before. Huggins insists the new funding formula is not just another ‘shell game’.

Over the years CCSD has engaged in numerous initiatives that were touted to close the achievement gap. Despite those efforts, the academic achievements of Black students continue to woefully lag behind those of other students, particularly their white counterparts.

In the 2022-2023 school year only about a third of Black students met or exceeded expectations in English language arts across all grade levels tested. More than 80 percent of White students met or exceeded expectations.

The racial achievement gap also persisted in Math. Between 63.8 percent and 81.8 percent of White students were meeting or exceeding expectations in Math proficiency compared to less than one-third of Black students.

Huggins says the Weighted Student Funding formula her administration proposes would provide additional funding to students who are in poverty, multilingual or have special needs. Those conditions make academic achievement more difficult. The additional funding would allow the schools those students attend to provide ‘wrap-around’ resources to them, she said.

“We want to serve kids who are achieving higher than ever before,” said Huggins noting achievement accomplished over the past several years (largely due to ESSR funding). We want to come with wrap-around support and services that will help us retain ESSR accomplishments,” Huggins added.

Huggins says the new funding formula would provide more resources to the students who need them most.  Funding would be provided as an additional allocation above what schools usually receive. At schools like West Ashley High where 80 percent of students are in poverty , the additional funding would have a tremendous impact, Huggins said. She wants consolidated school board members see the vision and pass the budget. CCSD Consolidated School Board gave first reading approval to the budget May 20.

If finally approved CCSD would become the first school district in South Carolina to adopt the formula, but others may follow. According to a 2022 research report from Georgetown University, “School districts have increasingly adopted weighted student funding (WSF) formulas that allocate dollars, rather than staff positions, to schools … while a majority of all studied districts drive more dollars to low-income students, low-income students in WSF districts are more likely than their peers in other districts to both receive additional dollars and to receive a greater share of district expenditures.”

The cost of the formula’s implementation is about $33 million. Huggins says the new formula is necessary because current funding does not address the needs of students who are in poverty, multilingual or have special needs at all schools as it does for those who attend Title 1 schools. She added the additional funding would come from money the district saves on administrative costs and would not increase taxes.

Barney Blakeney is a freelance writer based in Charleston who has worked in the field of journalism as a news reporter and columnist since 1977. He has written for local, statewide and national publications. He spent the bulk of his professional career writing for the Charleston Chronicle.

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