Beaufort News

Parents speak out against proposed school closures

The Beaufort County Board of Education heard from four residents Tuesday night who said two proposed school closures would hurt children by shuffling them from school to school.

Susanne Baisch, a school-improvement council member at Port Royal Elementary, said the proposal would send her daughter to Port Royal for third grade, to Mossy Oaks Elementary for fourth, and to Beaufort Middle School for fifth.

"Finances aside, is this moving really good for our children?" she asked.

The residents also criticized a task force that voted 5-4 last week to recommend closing Port Royal and Shell Point elementaries, asking why several members abstained from that vote.

"The task force which needs to be implemented is one that is comprised of taxpayers and parents to review the school board district offices' expenditures, from coffee to salaries," said Port Royal Elementary parent Melinda Cato.

Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray also addressed the board.

"I'm holding my comments until the task force actually makes their presentation to you," Murray said. "But I do want to point out the fact that both schools you're talking about closing are in the town of Port Royal."

School board Chairman Fred Washington defended the task-force process and said if the school district has "extra capacity," officials would be derelict if they did not examine and address the issue.

"As much obligation as we have to parents, well, we also have some obligation to taxpayers who are not parents," he said.

Washington said parents should continue speaking out and -- if need be -- take their case to voters.

"We're elected folks," he said. "You determine if we sit here or not."

District superintendent Valerie Truesdale said the task force will give a final report to board members Thursday, unless it does not finish its work today.

IN OTHER ACTION:

  • The Board of Education approved Matt Hunt as the new principal for Whale Branch Middle School, where he previously served as assistant principal.
  • Riverview Charter School officials said they will probably not meet federal targets for minority faculty and staff due to problems recruiting high-quality applicants.
  • "I think we're going to make gains," said Riverview director Alison Thomas. "I don't think we're going to make the goal."

    Board members stressed the seriousness of those targets.

    "We as a board have to look at that very closely," said vice-chairman George Wilson. "And if this is the downfall of your school, it's on your shoulders, not ours."

    Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.

    Related Content:Panel votes to close Shell Point, Port Royal elementaries, postpones final decision, July 13, 2011

    Town council makes plea for Port Royal Elementary School, July 13, 2011

    Preliminary school-closure list ruffles Port Royal parents, community, July 11, 2011

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