SC Dept of Ed releases new cost of teaching cursive

A student learns cursive writing

The South Carolina Department of Education said Friday that the cost of a bill that would require South Carolina's school districts to teach students how to write in cursive by fifth grade is $647,075.

That's drastically lower than the $27.6 million price tag given to the SC Senate Education Committee earlier this week.

The Senate panel narrowly advanced the bill Thursday to the full Education Committee on a 3-2 vote. A breakdown of the cost showed $25 million would be spent on instructional materials and $2.5 million on travel for teacher training.

Republican Sen. Ray Cleary of Murrells Inlet called the original price tag ridiculous. He said every elementary school teacher should know how to write in cursive, and students only need a pad of paper.

Just a few hours after the bill advanced, the State Department of Education sent us this tweet:

"We made a mistake in the fiscal impact statement today on the cursive writing bill before the SC Sen. Ed. Cmte - we're working to correct it"

The Department of Education released the updated estimate Friday afternoon, a reduction of about $26 million.

The new estimate, of $647,075, is the cost of one new workbook, at a cost of $11.29, for each of the estimated 57,314 second grade students, according to the Department of Education. There are now no travel or training costs being considered.

We asked why the new estimate was so much lower. "Overall cost will likely be lower since many teachers will use free, online resources and students can use existing materials," the agency tweeted. "We overestimated the amount of materials and training needed. We overestimated cost of materials & professional development & calculated it over 5 grades - our apologies for the error."

State standards haven't required cursive writing in the classroom since 2008.

The subcommittee postponed the mandate's effective date by one year, to require the instruction starting in 2015-16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.