Former trustee comments on schools

I read the story about the reopening of AR Lewis School as the new location for the 6th to 12th grade alternative school for the School District of Pickens County.

Last March, I along with hundreds of other parents sat in numerous meetings where the district administration and board leadership said AR Lewis and Holly Springs elementary schools had to be closed because a lack of funding. This year, students from five elementary schools in Pickens have been crammed into three.

I voted “No” to closing the schools and presented an alternative plan that earmarked existing revenue to keep all the schools open. There was plenty of money; revenue growth is the highest it has been in 10 years.

Lo and behold, they just found $879,000 for needed upgrades and reopened AR Lewis for another purpose. The board also unanimously approved a $2 million plan to demolish and build administration buildings.

It is clear the finances were there to keep AR Lewis and Holly Springs elementary schools open and parents and teachers were misled, if not lied to. Why didn’t any of the school board trustees point this out, or stand up for these parents, teachers and students who were given a big story?

Ambler, Hagood and Pickens Elementary are close to maxed out now. When I visited the schools at the start of the year, there were no extra classrooms in any of the three. If there is enrollment growth, the Pickens area will likely need more space.

As an alternative someone should have proposed AR Lewis be reopened, yes, but as an elementary school. That didn’t happen. In fact the trustees just raised their right hands like a bunch of zombies, just went along, and did so without a word.

By the way, all this was voted on during an 8 am Friday meeting. I guess telling parents one thing in 2016 and doing the exact opposite in 2017 wasn’t going to stand the light of day, and they knew it.

Alex Saitta


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