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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Points to ponder about the school closings in Pickens County:

Much misinformation is being spread about the school closings ...

Here are some facts:

• Each of the board members that are solidly voting to close schools also voted against prayer in Pickens County. (Edwards, Cooper, Swords)

• Each of these board members listed above are not in the affected areas of the school closings (Pickens)

Herbert Cooper (Clemson)
Judy Edwards (Easley)
Brian Swords (Liberty)

• Each of the above voted for 3 teacher pay raises for a single calendar year (rather than stagger) - illegally putting the school budget into deficit for the current school year AND projected future fiscal years. The school board must have a balanced budget. Each KNEW upon vote (I was present as they were warned) that the school budget would go into deficit.

• The group Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County (CCPC) advocated for this 3x pay raise and used the example of Oconee County teachers receiving higher pay. Oconee County recently gave teachers a district wide total $1.2 million pay raise. Coincidence? They are closing schools and doing so without public input (which are also strongly against) to save $700,000.

• This same group, CCPC, advocates for a 7th school board member along with Easley Representative Neal Collins. This board member, based on active voter registration and population would come from Easley or Clemson. If this 7th board member were already in place, the schools would ALREADY be closed!

Implementing a 7th school board member (monthly stipend, paperwork, administrative costs, election costs) would cost close to $40,000 first year (according to Rodney Allen at election commission and County Council) and $7000 each additional year. Would this money not be better spent on school supplies or a reading retention program?

If the board numbers are the issue, why go to 7? What about 5? There are only 4 high schools and technically only 5 zones - with Easley and Pickens sharing the 5th zone. Why do they not consider this? Because it would give more to board member Alex Saitta - who just so happens to be completely against the school closings. Saitta also is the only board member who advocates cutting spending and reducing waste and wants. Why give him more power right?

• Every school board trustee in office in SC swears on a Bible with the following words "I promise to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this state and this country" ...

Article 11 section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution:

"System of free public schools and other public institutions of learning.

The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State and shall establish, organize and support such other public institutions of learning, as may be desirable."

If the "support" is to come from "The General Assembly (i.e. the State of SC Legislature) how can "a county" possibly "support" the schools - according to our State Constitution?

 • The real underlying reason a budget issue continues to come up is because of the building plan. The state must step in and assume this responsibility. I don't care if those that perpetrated it are held accountable. As balloon payments rise, this will continue to be an issue. Schools will be forced to close, teachers will lose their jobs, and children will suffer. 

 • The affected schools for proposed closure are 100% budgeted for. What you're not being told is:
 1. Admin wants a new building

 2. They want to grant yet another pay raise

 3. The district is very top heavy with admin and principals.

 4. The district wants to continue to buy wants such as ChromeOS laptops that kids are barely using, are breaking, are ancient technology in the tech world, and are severely limited in their use and functionality.

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