Pay increase the right thing to do

I write this letter with a heart filled with gratitude and thanks. I am grateful for the step increases that the School District of Pickens County Board of Trustees recently put in place for the teachers of the district.

At Pickens High School, I was able to hire five top level first year candidates to fill vacancies left by wonderful teachers with years of experience. One new teacher greeted students in Mathematics, Science, and English respectively, and two met students in Social Studies.

These first year teachers are second to none academically and are equipped by professional preparation to lead students in the path of excellence. We were also able to hire three veteran teachers, two of whom are outstanding teachers from neighboring districts.

This is possible in part because our School Board placed a priority on hiring the brightest and best early and restoring the steps in the pay scale. I am thankful to the Board for giving us a competitive advantage in hiring.

With the additional pay steps in place, the SDPC takes a back seat to no one. Thank you School Board for placing your vision and leadership in securing these folks and many others for the benefit of our 16,000+ students. I understand that the vote was not unanimous.

I also understand that the dissenting vote was not against the third step per se, rather it was a vote to wait one year on adding it. I am thankful to live in these United States where a dissenting voice can be heard and where we don’t have to all agree on everything. We have the right to disagree. As good citizens, we can do so respectfully.

I am also thankful for the strong leadership of the district administration. Dr. Merck and his team have shown the district a vision and given us a five-year plan of action. Good planning, open and honest communication, and a clear focus on the students’ well-being have placed us on the road to excellence district-wide. A winning culture prevails in the SDPC.

It is important that we all notice that the landscape of education has changed dramatically over the past decade. Public education began in one room schoolhouses and progressed through the decades to be the primary promoter of democracy in America. Now it has grown to offer families choice in everything from location and curriculum to a fully virtual online model.

The beauty of public education is that it is offered to all. The difficulty of public education is that it is offered to all. The challenge for SDPC and other districts is to anticipate the needs of our community and provide an excellent education with a broad brush that prepares students for college, career, and citizenship.

Finally, I am thankful for the citizens of Pickens County who spoke up for public education. Realizing that a strong partnership between school and community is necessary, many citizens, business owners, industry leaders, economic experts, and public servants voiced their commitment to public education by calling for a commitment to a budget that included provisions to hire the very best teachers.

We must believe that our greatest resources in Pickens County are our young people. We must also believe in the power of teamwork. Working together as citizens, families, business leaders, district leaders, School Board leaders we can meet the challenges of the day and present a winning model for all to see.

Marion Lawson


Pickens High School

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