When a corporation lands a county tax break in South Carolina, the school district has zero say and stands to lose thousands of dollars per child.
Corporate subsidy tracker Good Jobs First found public school districts in the Palmetto State lost $423 million in fiscal year 2019 from economic development deals that seek to trade property taxes — a key funder of education in the state — for jobs.
Brutal South newsletter, penned by former Charleston City Paper reporter Paul Bowers, first wrote about the Good Jobs First look at county tax breaks’ impact on South Carolina schools.
According to the report, at least 72 of the state’s 81 school districts suffered negative revenue impacts. Poor school districts in Dorchester, Greenwood, Chester, Orangeburg, Barnwell and Calhoun counties lost more than $2,000 per student. By dollar amount, the biggest losses were reported by Berkeley County School District and Greenville County School District—$54 million and $41 million, respectively. Greenville, Charleston, Anderson, Aiken, Lexington, Spartanburg, Chester, Florence, Richland, Lancaster and York counties lost more than $10 million each.
“Our members struggle to teach in crumbling schools with poor heating and cooling systems and a lack of reliable internet connections,” South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East said in a statement on the report. “It baffles me to continuously hear we don’t have enough money to fund our schools, yet this report shows we are diverting huge pots of money that could be available if we just consider tax reform in South Carolina.”