Editorials

Our View: It's fair and right to extend ACE deadline

At this point, it is logical for the Beaufort County Board of Education to extend its involvement in a regional high school for career education.

Its partner, the Jasper County Board of Education, is not ready for this long-discussed alternative for the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence. And the delay of one year gives the benefit of the doubt to the students of Jasper County, who some say will be hurt by Beaufort County's withdrawal.

But the bottom line remains the same. The Beaufort County school board has now set a date certain for its withdrawal from ACE: June 30, 2017.

Both school districts need to be working with the legislative delegation to see how the school can be legally dismantled. It was created through state law 40 years ago.

The school building in Okatie is now worn out, and its governance has never been fair or logical. Beaufort County pays two-thirds of the cost while getting only half the seats on its board.

Both the ACE board and administration have seemed dysfunctional for some time.

And the school is not delivering results satisfactory to Beaufort County.

Beaufort County has plans to bring more career education into its own high schools, and as a result it announced plans earlier to leave ACE at the close of this school year.

It has been clear for years that the arrangement with Jasper County is not working. It's a shame because the more this region can act like a region, the better off everyone will be. However, when the Beaufort County school board suggested recently that the ACE Academy was top-heavy in administration, its suggestions were ignored. It resulted in talk of legal action against Beaufort County schools to demand continued funding for the status quo. No one needs that.

That's just one example of the kind of problems longtime Beaufort County school board member Laura Bush pointed out in a recent meeting. She said ACE's governance generally has clashing visions, agendas and budgets, and getting a vote has been like "pulling teeth and nails."

And those pointing fingers at Beaufort County's school board for breaking promises to the students of Jasper County must remember that Jasper County's board and administration played a major role in this breakup.

Giving it another year is the fair thing to do for all the students involved. Setting a date for a struggling partnership to end also is the fair and right thing to do.

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