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The Latest: South Carolina House passes education overhaul

March 7, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on an education overhaul bill in South Carolina (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

The South Carolina House has passed a massive bill overhauling education in South Carolina.

Representatives voted 113-4 on Wednesday to give key approval to the bill after six hours of debate. It raises the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000, gives the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts and creates a nearly $100 million fund to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling.

The House voted against several changes proposed by Democrats including free lunches for all students and the elimination of a Zero to Twenty Committee to oversee education from pre-kindergarten to technical colleges. Democrats did get into the bill a proposal backed by teachers to guarantee a 30-minute break without students every day.

The bill is still a long way from becoming law. The Senate has its own, different and still changing education overhaul package.

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6:30 p.m.

The South Carolina House continues to debate a massive bill to overhaul education in South Carolina.

The 80-plus page bill raises the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000, gives the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts and creates a fund of around $100 million to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling.

After four hours of debate Wednesday, the House rejected several changes sought by Democrats including free lunches for all students and a requirement a teaching assistant be added to any class in kindergarten through third grade with more than 15 students in a low performing school. Republicans said the class size issue would be taken up in the budget.

The House had about two dozen more amendments to consider before voting on the final bill.

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12:20 p.m.

The South Carolina House is expected to debate — and quickly pass — a massive bill overhauling education in the state.

The 80-plus page bill raises the minimum starting teacher pay to $35,000, gives the state education superintendent more ability to take over low-performing school districts and creates a $100 million fund a to help bring businesses to places where schools are poor and struggling.

Before debate even began Wednesday, Gov Henry McMaster posted on Twitter the House would take the first bold step to reform and the time to act was now.

The Legislative Black Caucus said Wednesday it will propose several changes, including requiring smaller class sizes in struggling school districts and a guaranteed 30-minute lunch break for teachers.

The Senate has its own, different education overhaul package.