Courier Letters to the Editor 3-16-16

Signature issue

Dear Editor,

Under the state law, the school board has authority to close schools. I do not dispute that, but board members also must have a moral authority or standing to make such a decision. When making a decision of such gravity — one that turns lives upside down, changes communities and ends traditions going back to the 1920s, leaders must be conscious of not only their legal authority but whether or not they have the moral authority as well.

Phil Bowers is from Six Mile, with one year on the board. Herb Cooper has been on the board 24 years, and I understand he visited Holly Springs last week, and my bet is that was his first visit. Dr. Danny Merck has been superintendent less than two years, and he doesn’t have a middle school or career center named after him. I don’t have the moral standing either. While I’ve been representing Pickens 12 years, I’m not from here. Frankly, I’m a Yankee with no place messing with a 100-year tradition in Pickens County, S.C., without the blessing of the people who spent their entire lives here.

When I think about the people who should make a decision of this magnitude, I can’t help but think our names are near the bottom of that list, despite what the law says.

Someone like Larry Martin, who has been representing the county for 35 years, been elected and re-elected numerous times, would be seen as having the moral authority to do this. Someone from the Chastain, the Edens or the Lynch families, who have been living in those communities since the 1790s, would be at the top of that list.

Where is the respect for the wishes of those who have been here long before us, or made the investments of time that we haven’t made?

The fact the board seriously considered making this decision against the wishes of the thousands who have put years, and whose families put generations of time and effort into those schools and communities is reprehensible. The fact they voted to close those schools is unforgiveable.

I could see if the buildings blew down in a tornado over the Easter break and then such a decision was hoisted upon us — to rebuild these small schools or not rebuild them? Then we would be justified in making that decision, moral standing or not. But that was not the case here. Absent the necessary moral authority or standing, Judy Edwards, Brian Swords, Phil Bowers, Herb Cooper and Dr. Merck went out of their way to close those freshly renovated schools — some of the top performers in the county — and ended a nearly 100-year tradition up there.

Their names will be mud with these people because they know these “leaders” lack the moral authority or standing to make such a decision in their eyes. The parents of students in those schools, the decades of alumni spread around this county, the families that have been up there since the 1790s or those who just moved into places like the Vineyards know these trustees have not invested one moment of time in these schools or communties.

Later, when these trustees think of why they ran and the superintendent what he aimed to accomplish in his tenure, there will be no way to run away from this decision; closing these schools will be their signature issue, and no one will look upon them favorably for it.

Alex Saitta

School board trustee


Do you care?

Dear Editor,

My heart goes out to the families and children who are affected by the school board’s irresponsible and deplorable vote on Monday night. We went through this and know what these changes and challenges will be like for you.

As far as the board members who didn’t listen to the hundreds of people who didn’t want this for their family, their children, their friends and neighbors — I certainly hope you enjoyed your time on the board playing God with the people who voted to put you in that position in the first place and mistakenly trusted you.

There were other options rather than closing any of these schools, and you know it. It amazes me how you four board members can disengage and not care that you just hurt hundreds of families and children.

When you go to sleep at night, will you even think about the children who go to bed crying at night because they’re losing their school, their friends, their trusted teachers and their feeling of safety in all that they know right now? Do you care that their first experience in politics is the knowledge that money matters, not people?

If I have anything to say about it, I will do everything in my power to make sure you do not get re-elected. You have effectively made these children numbers and treated these families like they were part of a business plan, instead of the community that they are. Shame on you.

When the next board seats come up for election, you will be on the chopping block. You have made people feel like their voices are not heard, and you don’t care about what’s best for them and their families, and people do not have short memories.

If there is ever a time to get involved in voting and choosing board members who care about us, and not the schools as a business where you can “write off” loss, now is the time.

We need the “majority” of the board to represent the voters, the families, the children and the community, and as it stands right now, we do not have that.

Personally, I would like to thank Henry Wilson and Alex Saitta for being steadfast in doing your best to keep us informed and truly representing us and the community. It couldn’t have been easy to stand up against the bullies that make up the remainder of the board. But please know that you have our respect, loyalty and appreciation for standing up for what was right and fighting for our children’s best interest.

Laura Demler