Courier Letters to the Editor 7-23-14

Explaining accreditation

Dear Editor,

By law, the South Carolina Department of Education accredits all public education units — school boards, school district operations and schools, and certifies the diplomas issued by school districts in the state. The School District of Pickens County is accredited by the state, which in its 2012-13 report gave our district a 3.93 (out of 4.0) score. The state gave our school board the highest score of 4.0 or “All Clear,” showing it was and is compliant with state education laws, regulations and standards.

AdvancEd is a private organization our school district pays a fee to to accredit its schools, board and district. This is separate from the accreditation process of the Department of Education; it is voluntary and not required by law. Colleges look at this AdvancED accreditation, so our district chooses to participate in its accreditation process.

In December, AdvancED recommended renewal of our accreditation. Like most all audits or review processes, AdvancED listed required actions in terms of education, building maintenance and board governance.

Working with the board’s attorney and consultant, the next few months we discussed the report and the district and board worked to address AdvancED’s concerns. We formulated our response and submitted it to AdvancED in April as it asked. District leaders and board members met with AdvancED in May. AdvancED was satisfied and has renewed the school district’s accreditation for another five-year term. We will continue to work with AdvancED as we do the state on all accreditation issues.

Alex Saitta

School Board Trustee


Irresponsible government

Dear Editor,

The people are going to have to decide what kind of life we shall have.

The South Carolina legislature runs this state. The speaker of the house is under investigation by a grand jury. No state infrastructure bank money gets spent on roads in Pickens County, but Charleston is being “gold plated,” and other favored places like Horry County are spending almost all the money. Our members have seen this.

The legislature is shorting Pickens County more than $3 million for fiscal year 2012 and shorting the school district. The base student cost should be $2,850, but the state funds only $1,630 for each of the 16,000 students.

The sheriff’s office has run out of space for prisoners. Sometimes in the jail there are only four officers working to watch 200 prisoners being detained. Lack of jail space and medical events or riots can lead to very expensive lawsuits.

The prosecutor’s office cannot prosecute all the criminals in Pickens County. Each attorney in the Pickens office is prosecuting about 650 warrants at any given time, where the national average is around 250 to 300 warrants. The very small public defender staff cannot handle the cases.

The state government is shorting the prison system and reducing the number of prisoners incarcerated.

The solution is not a raise in taxes but to redirect some of the $23.4 billion the state government spends to law enforcement and local governments. Without this we will be overrun with criminals on worn-out state roads.

Weldon Clark