A Beaufort County school board member has decided to leave the joint board that governs the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence.
JoAnn Orischak announced Monday that it is “increasingly difficult to justify our continued participation” in the technical school given the expansion of career- and technology-education programs within Beaufort County public schools.
“It is only fair to the faculty and staff at ACE to have a fully invested board in its day-to-day operations,” she said in a prepared statement.
While the ACE board runs the school, the Beaufort and Jasper county boards have been working to map its future. Some officials, like Orischak, argue in-house programs in Beaufort County have ruled the aging technical school obsolete to local students.
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While Beaufort County has announced its intent to dissolve its agreement with Jasper County and withdraw its current level of funding by the end of 2016-2017, the two districts have yet to reach an agreement.
Orischak said her decision to resign from the ACE board was prompted by a recent visit to the Advanced Technical Center at Battery Creek High School, which will soon be replicated across the Broad River with a similar facility at the new May River High School.
“We can feel assured that the needs of our Beaufort County students will be met,” Orischak said.
She also reiterated her support for allowing the Technical College of the Lowcountry to take over ACE, update its facilities and offer technical and vocational college courses to qualifying high school students.
An ACE transition team, of which Orischak was a member, presented that avenue to both county’s school boards in November.
However, it was met with some skepticism and concern from Jasper County board members who argue it’s unfair to leave their lowest-achieving students without opportunities for technical education.
Orischak represents the south end of Hilton Head Island on the Beaufort County school board, which is now responsible for appointing another member to the ACE board.
The ACE board next meets Feb. 18.
It also includes Beaufort County school board members Mary Cordray and Geri Kinton and Jasper County school board members Deb Butler, Tedd Moyd and Randy Horton.
Butler, who is chairwoman of the ACE board, said she had not seen Orischak’s resignation letter and could not comment on her departure.
However, she said Jasper County is determined to improve its career- and technology-education offerings, and has formed its own six-person committee on that issue. It next meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Jasper County School District office.
Another, separate committee is in the works by Butler, Horton and Kevin Karg. Its sole purpose is to reach a resolution on ACE with Beaufort County.
- Beaufort County school board offers to support ACE one more year, November 6, 2015
- Recommendation for ACE's future prompts tension, confusion among boards, November 2, 2015
- ACE closure could change local barbering tradition, December 27, 2015