Governor Henry McMaster on Wednesday announced a $10.5 million investment in South Carolina’s public charter schools and the state’s workforce development efforts through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. South Carolina’s charter schools will receive $9 million to offset increased enrollment costs and the South Carolina Department of Commerce (Commerce) will receive $1.5 million for the South Carolina Workforce Journey’s Initiative.
“For South Carolina to continue its unprecedented economic growth we must continue to invest in our young people,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “These grants will do just that by providing additional opportunity for our children to go to schools that best fit their needs and by giving our young workers, who were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources they need to find jobs right here in South Carolina.”
Governor McMaster awarded $9 million to South Carolina’s charter schools to offset increased enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be allocated based on the number of students enrolled in brick and mortar and virtual charter schools as of the 135th day of enrollment in the current school year. Due to the difference in cost of instruction, brick-and-mortar schools will receive approximately $220 per student and virtual charter schools $116 per student. The South Carolina Public Charter School District and the Charter Institute at Erskine saw a 25 percent increase due to the impact of COVID-19.
“The South Carolina Public Charter School District is grateful to Governor McMaster for his long-time support of public charter schools and for putting kids first,” said South Carolina Public Charter School District Superintendent Chris Neeley. “We are thankful for the Governor’s award of $9 million in GEER funds for our students during this unprecedented year of rapid growth and demand for public charter schools in South Carolina. His support will ensure we can continue to provide our students a high-quality education in a safe and in-person setting.”
“I am thankful to Governor McMaster for his unwavering support for the tens of thousands of public charter school students across South Carolina,” said Erskine Superintendent and CEO Cameron Runyan. “These funds will ensure that South Carolina families who chose a charter school as their preferred educational option during the COVID pandemic will be able to safely and effectively finish out the school year.”
The governor also awarded $1.5 million to the S.C. Department of Commerce to establish the South Carolina Workforce Journey’s initiative, which will provide career exploration and job preparation resources for those between the age of 16 and 24 who were impacted by the pandemic. The initiative will employ new technology to highlight current and prospective career opportunities and will target high schools, career and technical education centers, technical colleges, and employers. Funds will pay for 30,000 South Carolinians to take an assessment to measure soft skills and core competencies for entry and mid-skill jobs. Commerce will also conduct a state and regional labor market data analysis to highlight trends within the job market related to artificial intelligence careers.
The original GEER Fund allocation was a one-time grant funded by monies received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. South Carolina’s initial GEER Fund allocation was $48 million.
Governor McMaster previously allocated GEER funds to the following initiatives ($25.9 million):
- $4,913,000 to the Department of Social Services for educational needs of foster care children and youth in group homes
- $8,000,000 to SC Technical College System for short-term training programs
- $5,000,0000 to Office of First Steps to School Readiness for expanded day or summer programs for four-year-olds eligible for the full-day 4K program
- $2,000,000 to the SC Department of Education for expanded day or summer programs for four-year-olds eligible for the full-day 4K program
- $6,000,000 to the University of South Carolina for 8 regional computer labs
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