SC Senate education overhaul bill debate enters 4th week

February 4, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators started a fourth week of debate Tuesday on a massive education overhaul bill with no obvious signs the discussion will end soon.

The Senate started debating the bill on Jan. 15. The House passed its version last March.

Debate Tuesday was dominated by whether South Carolina should change its law keeping school districts from starting a school year for students before the third Tuesday in August.

That has been a touchy debate for decades. Lawmakers in areas dependent on tourism want a later start date to attract vacationers later into the summer. Supporters said starting school in early August would allow the first semester to end before Christmas break.

Over 10 days of debate, senators have also discussed protections for teachers including break time and pay for extra duties and standardized testings.

The bill touches schools of every type and grade level, from prekindergarten to technical schools. The bill also covers administrative issues ranging from standardized testing to school management.

The House has started passing portions of the large bill in smaller chunks in case the overhaul bill fails in the Senate.

A group of senators tried to pass a procedure to take up other bills, but it failed Tuesday.