Gov. nixes open enrollment

COLUMBIA -- As expected, Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the open-enrollment bill Friday, saying the measure which would pave the way for students to apply to any public school in the state regardless of where they live actually would inhibit choice.

"The bottom line is that until we get full-blown choice that includes both public and private educational options, we don't have the kind of vibrant educational marketplace we need to achieve real educational improvements in our state," Sanford said in his veto statement.

Earlier versions of the bill, which included two private-school tuition voucher amendments, failed to gain traction.

Among Sanford's reasons for the veto:

• The bill doesn't provide options outside of the public-school system for children whose needs are not met within it.

• Trustees can set limits on how many students can transfer between schools, therefore focusing more on the needs of the district than the students.

• The three-year phase-in would take too long to determine whether the bill was working.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said Sanford's veto delays necessary reforms to the S.C. school system. "I am disappointed but not deterred by Governor Sanford's misguided veto of real public-school choice," he said.

"I continue to be perplexed by Governor Sanford's allegiance to a system of vouchers and tax credits that would take money from our public schools and give it to private schools with no accountability."

Sanford and supporters of the voucher amendments said they wanted to ensure students would have other options if they were denied transfers because of school capacity limits.

It takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to overturn the governor's decision.