Courier Letters to the Editor


Addressing AdvancED board review

Dear Editor,

I’d like to respond to the letter written concerning the recent review by AdvancED of the School District of Pickens County. AdvancEd’s team recommended a renewal of the district’s accreditation. This is contrary to what some think and others have written — that AdvancED recommended non-accreditation. That is untrue.

With all accreditation processes, be it the one done by the State Department of Education or AdvancED, there is usually a list of required steps of improvement. AdvancED listed three things it wants the district/ board to address in terms of education issues, building issues and board governance.

We are already moving forward on all of that. The administration is handling the education issues. The board is working with a consultant on the governance issues, and we have already met with him and will meet again next week. The board is drawing up a policy that will create a building maintenance budget process we believe will satisfy the requirement on buildings.

The district’s graduation rate has risen four points the past four years. When you look at the exam all high schoolers take — the Exit Exam, scores are the highest they’ve been since 1999. When you look at the PASS, it shows elementary and middle schoolers are gaining ground too. Our district is in the top 10 in the state.

I’m confident the renewal of accreditation will be finalized in a few months.

Alex Saitta

School Board Trustee


Ashamed of school board

Dear Editor,

Kudos to Tom O’Hanlan for the letter he wrote in the Wednesday, Jan. 29, edition of the Courier concerning the Pickens County school board.

As a grandparent with a child in the best elementary school in the county, I am very concerned about losing school accreditation. My wife and I both volunteer at our granddaughter’s school, and I was asked to participate in a survey and one of the review sessions that the accreditation team held.

There was a diverse group of people in the session I attended, and it was very apparent that all the main problems were a direct reflection of the action, inaction, hidden agendas and inability of the board to function appropriately.

As Mr. O’Hanlan said, “the same report praises the administration on all levels” and it also spoke well of the education that our children are receiving at the schools.

Losing accreditation will be a tremendous blow to our great county, and I feel, as a taxpayer and concerned citizen, that you, the school board, owe this county more than you have given. You have been given a date and an opportunity to fix them, do it before it is too late.

Tom Kelley

Volunteer, PTO President

Holly Springs Elementary


State of the Union and State of Me

Dear Editor,

Every January for many years, there have been State of the Union/State addresses by the president and governor to report to the people how well things are going and the great things to be done. But more often than not, it’s just another pep-rally speech for political types up around Washington and down in Columbia. At least for those in power — those out of power have their own counterpoint talk to report how bad things are with the current leadership. Neither have ever felt like they applied to the State of Me.

All that economic stimulus which was part of the recovery effort after 2008 never did much for me. They bailed out big corporations, banks and financial institutions, but my status changed from employed to unempoyed anyway. Even during the boom times before 2008, my economic status was going nowhere. After adjusting for inflation, my last year’s salary in 2009 was the same as that in 1990.

The COBRA insurance coverage ended after 18 months. It was with the same insurance company that provided coverage during my employment. My status immediately changed from insurable to high risk un-insurable, even though I had continued coverage for years with no serious health problems. They wanted half to all of my monthly retirement income for premiums.

Interest on my savings dropped from 5 to 4 to 3 percent. Now it’s down to 0.05 percent so businesses can have cheap money and create jobs. But they weren’t expanding because people didn’t have extra money to spend. I would have had more money to spend if the interest were still up around 5 percent. I might as well take my bit of savings out of the bank and bury it in the back yard, just so they can’t use it to make more money for themselves.

The state gives tax breaks to companies if they locate here and create jobs. What they don’t have to pay has to be paid by others — that would include me. The city, county and state provide free or low-cost services to the new businesses, while I continue to pay increasing rates for what is provided to me.

I had to start my retirement social security early, which means I’ll be getting less monthly income. Which means I’ll have less money to spend to do my part to stimulate the future economy. It will take longer for me to get back what I and my employers paid into the system, assuming I live long enough.

Politics in this country have created a depressed State of Me. I’ve started to think of it as the Beast of Washington, D.C. That fiasco last year with the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis showed what the beast is like. In January, it was learned political scheming caused the traffic jam at the Washinton Bridge in Jersey last September. Both used hardships on common citizens for supposedly political gains. Bridge-gate, a name derived from the Watergate incident back about 1972. How many [fill in the blank]-gates have there been over the years? The nation divides itself into Rs and Ds, and it really is a house divided against itself.

We’re not only divided but fractured into hundreds of pieces. Every issue appears to be divisive. Rights to own guns or control of gun violence, rights to abortion or rights to life, prayers in school or separation of students from prayers, voter photo ID pro and con, plus all the others. Maybe the nation has always been this way — most of these issues have been around for decades.

Oh well. The State of Me is really all that’s changed. During my teens, 20s and 30s politics was something the older, wealthy people played while I played with just living. During my 40s and 50s it was something to cope with while getting on with living. Now during my 60s the politics beast is something multi-billioniares play with, something to gripe about and something to avoid by staying out of its way as best I can.

Jerry Hughes