To the editor:
I read members of the local state delegation are considering adding a seventh seat to the school board, and they are seeking public input on the idea. I credit them for asking the public what it thinks before taking action.
Some have said they fear of too many tie votes on the six member board. That’s an understandable concern, but the voting record doesn’t justify that fear. The school board has cast hundreds of votes and only seven had 3 to 3 votes. Six of the seven of those votes were met with a compromise in that meeting or the meeting after, and the issue was resolved with a majority vote. For example, in the 2011-12 budget session, where significant spending cuts were made, three alternative plans were proposed that night. The first two plans failed 3 to 3, and the third passed 4 to 2 and the board passed its budget in short order.
Others have said Easley is under represented. This is untrue. The concept of one man/ one vote and equal representation is protected by the US Constitution, Constitutional case law and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those laws are enforced by the US Justice Department and the state. If anyone was under-represented, the size of the voting districts would have never been approved, or the county would have been sued long ago.
Those supporting this 7th seat have argued the Easley school attendance zone has only one representative on the school board (the Easley trustee) but the Pickens zone has two representatives (the Pickens and Dacusville trustees). Close inspection of the school board districts reveals this also not true.
Most of the area represented by the Dacusville trustee spreads into the Easley school attendance area. The northern part of Easley and most of the eastern half of Easley is represented by the Dacusville trustee. The Dacusville seat covers areas of Easley where students attend Crosswell, McKissick, East End and the Forest Acres elementary schools. In fact, seven of the Dacusville trustee’s 10 polling places are in Easley.
The reason for the push to add a 7th seat is political, in my opinion. The spending, tax and borrowing group that ran the school board for years (from Easley and Clemson), overdid it with the Greenville Plan and raising property taxes a record 40 mills, so they lost a few elections. To regain a majority on the board, they are trying to gain an advantage not by winning the next election, but asking the delegation to change the rules for the election.
My hope is the members of the delegation will see it fit to stick with the current board configuration, and let the voters of Pickens County determine in the November 2014 election whether or not the next step of the school board remains conservative, moderates or swings back to the left.