I read Superintendent Henry Hunt op-ed last week and support his effort to get more residents to register and vote. He also asked voters to judge school board candidates on the November ballot based on their vision for academic achievement, how well they inspire parents to get involved, their understanding the board’s role, who will work well with other board members, will they well represent our diverse community and have a commitment to children.
Given school funds are tighter now than ever, Dr. Hunt failed to mention how well each candidate will manage those funds. Unfortunately, budget management has never been emphasized at the district office and school board, and that why the building plan has risen from $158 million to $374 million.
Those figures make lack of financial consciousness in Dr. Hunt’s op-ed more striking. Next year the school district will face a $5 million deficit. Sooner or later people at the district office and on the school board must to start thinking about how to better manage money.
I’m not holding my breath on any current school board member changing their ways, so I suggest voters judge each school board candidate’s respect for our limited tax dollars, and look at their record on spending, borrowing and taxing.
For instance, we need to start electing more school board members who will ask the school district, “If having a second middle school in Easley is so important, why didn’t the district/ board realize that before it burned through $365 million? Is anyone at the district or on the board paying attention to the top priorities?
Instead of spending $14 million on four new football stadiums, when the current ones are more than adequate, maybe the district should have used that money for the second middle school instead.
The board voted to grow the building plan again to $374 million. Maybe one of the top criteria should be does the candidate have the ability to utter the word, “No” once in a while.
We need school board members with the courage to ask logical questions like, the school board is laying off teachers, yet it spent thousands for 40” TV’s in school hallways that tell students to be quiet. Why isn’t the board putting first things first?
Who in Liberty will best meet those criteria, Roy Costner or Ben Trotter in Liberty? B. J. Skelton or Jimmy Gillespie in Six Mile/ Central?
Finally, Dr. Hunt needs to remind his staff again that any politicking on or using school property is illegal and punishable by law. SC Code 8-13-765 states: “No person may use government personnel, equipment, materials, or an office building in an election campaign.” That includes using computers or email to receive or distribute campaign literature or allowing candidates to politic on school property.