I never thought I would be writing this but I agree with Alex Saitta. Saitta, a Pickens County School Board member, pointed out at the last board meeting and again in a letter to the editor that the school district had cut 55 teaching positions over the last two years and planned to cut another 15 for a total loss of 70 teachers.
As Mr. Saitta said, “How is that going to help students?” It won’t. However, where Mr. Saitta is wrong is blaming those cuts on the school district putting teachers’ step increases back in the budget. First, 55 of those positions were lost before the school board gave teachers their step increases back.
Secondly, Mr. Saitta is right, many business owners and workers went two, three and four years without pay raises during the recession. But the School District of Pickens County has gone without a pay increase for eleven years. That is how long it has been since there has been a millage increase in Pickens County for operational expenses for Pickens County Schools.
Over that time I have seen classroom supply funding cut again and again, programs lost, teacher pay cut, and as Mr. Saitta points out teacher positions lost. Yes, businesses and workers suffered during the recession but so did our schools.
Why, because we have been denied the funding? All across Pickens County I see signs of recovery.
Yet, our schools and our children are not allowed to share in the recovery? How long will building the new schools be held over our heads? Until there are no teachers left? Mr. Saitta claims he supports Pickens County teachers, that he wants to fight to keep classroom teachers, and that he wants to improve education for the children of Pickens County.
I call on Mr. Saitta to do the right thing and demand a millage increase for the operating expenses of the School District of Pickens County to save teachers jobs. I call on Mr. Saitta to prove he is indeed “for the teachers and children of Pickens County.”