FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Introductions- Dr. Washington: At each meeting of SCORS we have more people attending and contributing to the discussion.
Review of SCORS activities- Hillmans: Carol and Arnold Hillman and Vashti Washington expressed appreciation for the way they have been welcomed into so many of the rural districts. They are particularly appreciative of the time so many superintendents have taken to teach them about public education in SC. They noted that each district is different and that although they saw evidence of great need in districts, they were impressed with what they saw as creative efforts to deal with a lack of resources.
Update of Abbeville case- Attorney Carl Epps: Attorney Epps gave us a very detailed history of the Abbeyville case, all the way from 1993 to the present. He noted that the case was brought in ’93 because superintendents from rural SC public school districts could not afford the pay their teachers’ benefits. Those present engaged Attorney Epps in a discussion about the challenges they face today. The conclusion was that since the initial case in 1993, we are still struggling. The only thing that has changed is that the demands on our schools are greater now.
Attorney Epps noted that the rural SC districts are lacking a lobbying voice.
There was general agreement that rural superintendents need to spend time interfacing with legislators.
Consolidation as a solution- all: More discussion and a conclusion that in some cases consolidation within a district is advisable. Occasionally consolidation among districts might be helpful. Several concerns were expressed:
• Although some people think consolidation saves money, the research shows that consolidation often costs more money.
• No child should have to spend more than an hour riding on a school bus and because many of the rural districts are so large, children might need to spend more than a hour riding just one way.
• A poor district might benefit from consolidation with a wealthy district, but at the moment no wealthy districts are interested in that kind of partnership.
• If two small poor districts consolidate what you will end up with is one big poor district and that doesn’t help anyone.
It was suggested that instead of talking about consolidation we should be talking about collaboration.
Consortia and their activities- all
The Hillmans have visited Salkehatchie Consortium and have offered to visit other consortia. There was talk of joint purchasing, an honor’s band, bringing board members together, inviting legislators, asking for funding to provide a Science van and a teacher/driver to be shared among districts, etc.
A young man who is doing his Master’s Thesis at Francis Marion University has offered to help us do some research on a number of topics including school funding. He expressed interest in coming to the next meetings. We all agreed that it would be fine.
Next Meeting: tentatively a Tuesday or Thursday in early April. We will not interfere with the SCASA meeting.
There was a discussion about testing students. A suggestion was made to test the same students each year. There are some districts with a great deal of transience. Some method might be divined to identify students who have been in the school district for a certain number of years. It certainly would be a difficult task, but worthwhile.
We appreciate SCEA for hosting this meeting and thank them for their resources and kindness.