Delegation to mull school board decision

Billy Cannada Staff Writer

October 28, 2013

PICKENS COUNTY – After hearing from local residents last week, state representatives will now consider a bill that could redefine Pickens County School Board representation

Pickens County Legislative Delegation, comprised of Sen. Larry Martin (R), Rep. Davey Hiott (R), Rep. Phil Owens (R) and Rep. B.R. Skelton (R), hosted a public forum last Tuesday night at Pickens County Career and Technology Center, allowing local residents to voice their opinion on potentially adding a seventh seat to the board.

The topic circles around talks of redrawing attendance area lines throughout the county.

“It’s great to have public meetings like that so folks can come and voice their concerns,” Hiott said. “We had between 30-35 people that spoke and we were glad to hear from all those folks. We even had some folks that couldn’t be there and have been in contact with the entire delegation to voice their opinion.”

Although Hiott said the public forum was a unique opportunity to hear from constituents on the issue, he said he was not swayed one way or the other.

“We’ll sit down sometime in January as a delegation, hash it out and go from there,” Hiott said. “I didn’t come away from the meeting leaning one way or the other.”

Martin said each member of the delegation will continue to discuss and hear from the public on the issue until legislative session gets back underway in January.

“When we go back in January we’ll make a decision on whether or not we want to go forward with a bill,” Martin said. “(Any bill) would have to pass both houses and would have to be signed into law by the governor.”

Martin said if the Governor vetoes a bill, it has to be overridden by the entire membership of the House and Senate. He said the delegation no longer has the power to override local legislation.

“That’s going to make local legislation more difficult,” he said.

Martin had a map drawn that redefines district lines in the county to make room for seven seats. He said the new map better represents attendance areas in the county.

“The purpose of the map was to try to keep a school district board seat within the attendance area, to the extent possible,” Martin said.

Several speakers opposing an additional school board member voiced the comment, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” at Tuesday night’s forum.

“Our district is performing well. Our school board is fairly well represented with six members. The addition of a seventh school board member is absolutely unnecessary,” Pickens resident Dan Winchester said. “Our school district’s organization of its board is not broken. Don’t tamper with it and don’t try to micromanage it.”

Others made the argument in favor of another seat.

“Are the four high school attendance areas adequately represented with the current board arrangement?” School board trustee Jim Shelton asked. “The honest, objective answer to that is no. People want to vote for a person that lies within their high school attendance area. Under the current arrangement, we have one trustee in the Easley attendance area, three in the Pickens attendance area and two in the Daniel attendance area.”