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Letter: Real estate broker wants to ‘educate’ school board

Posted: March 3, 2015 9:25 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2015 1:00 a.m.

I am writing to “educate” some folks with the Kershaw County school board regarding the article that came out in the Chronicle-Independent newspaper on Feb. 20, 2015.

I know it must not be an easy task to serve on such an important board where a few people make life-long decisions that will have an everlasting effect on students and the taxpayers of Kershaw County.

I’ve acquired much wisdom while working with organizations that support the better education of all the children in Kershaw County. For over 40 years, I’ve supported education, and I have worked in the northeast part of Kershaw County. This part of the county cannot help its geographical location just as Lugoff and Camden cannot change their location. However, as a parent, grandparent, daughter of an educator, wife of an educator, a real estate investor and owner of a real estate company for 30 years, I do know how schools affect the area where one lives. Not only do I care deeply about the children who are being educated, but I care about the economic impact schools have on the location of where one lives.

We all know just because we have a new or renovated home, it takes money7 to maintain that home. It is no different with the schools. Money has to be put aside to keep the existing schools safe and conducive to learning no matter the age of the school. That should be one of the priorities with the school district. Even newer schools could need maintenance such as septic systems. There is a short-lived warranty on septic systems, and even HVAC systems have no more than 10 years warranty.

I’d also rethink “refinancing” Phase 1 that hasn’t even been paid for. If you haven’t paid off Phase 1, what makes us county residents think you’ll be able to pay off Phase 2 in a timely manner.

Mrs. Jones stated that the Bethune area school is “draining and taking it out of the classroom for every [letter writer’s emphasis] other kid.”

Apparently, you, Mrs. Jones, don’t know much about the tax base that supports all the schools in Kershaw County. You have residential taxes, agricultural taxes, vehicle taxes, mobile home taxes, boat/plane taxes, commercial taxes, industrial taxes and fees in lieu of taxes that support the schools. Out of the “Top 10” industrial plants in Kershaw county that contribute large amounts of money to the school taxes, there is only one such plant in the northeast area (Baron DeKalb, Bethune, Midway, Mt. Pisgah) that is part of the Top 10 paying the most money to the Kershaw County School District. That plant is not the largest producer of wipes in South Carolina, the United States, “but” part of the Suominen Plant that is the largest producer of wipes in the world! This plant is called Bethune Nonwovens.

It should be important to know where the bread and butter come from and to be aware of the high tax base that the industries pay. It is this high tax base at the edge of the town of Bethune that pays not only to support the children of the Bethune area, but the other children in the rest of the county.

For facts, when there was a Bethune High, Bethune Middle and Bethune Elementary in the town of Bethune, those schools were not draining the Kershaw County School District nor the taxpayers. However, because of rumor and no improvements, the rest of Kershaw County was led to believe that the three Bethune schools were taking money away from the other schools. Nothing could have been further from the truth. However, it had an impact on the former students and they constantly felt threatened their schools were going to close. With good reason, because they never received the bare necessities to teach them in the classroom. These fears didn’t help the learning process. The school district did not support Bethune nor did they put any of their money they paid in taxes back in the Bethune area. I know. My children were there. The Kershaw County School never gave the Bethune students basic necessities, such as ceiling fans and air conditioners. The parents and businessmen had to raise money to provide them with comfort to learn.

My son’s biology class didn’t even have enough microscopes for every student because the school district said there was no money for Bethune. The school district said there was no money for a band. The school district would not even put a fence around the football field. My husband, one of the former winning football and basketball coaches, Doby Gordon, headed up fundraisers to put up the fence. This was a basic necessity. The list can go on and on. We were discriminated against in every area and treated like Kershaw County’s red-headed stepchild. The bright light for the Bethune students was they knew their parents, the community and the teacher loved them and believed in them and brought them through many hard obstacles. As the African proverb states: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Bethune was a living example of that village which helped to raise the children that went to school there. And, thanks to that involvement, the success stories of the former Bethune High students is very long.

Then, in 1999, the Kershaw County School District took our high school away. They promised to leave the young middle school students alone. How long did that last? Not long. Then the school district took our middle school students and saw nothing wrong with busing the younger students very long distances to North Central. Please tell me how a sleep-deprived child can have a high test score? It is very important for parents to be involved in a child’s formative years, but how can they when their child is being educated so far from home? There are children whose parents have to drive 45 minutes one way to get to the school when there is an emergency or if they’re able to support that child in academics and sports. That is not fair for either the students or the parents.

Mrs. Jones also said, “I’m not seeing where smaller schools help economic development in the Bethune area.” I’ve recently lost real estate sales because there was no high or middle school in the town of Bethune and the customers had heard the rumor that the elementary school might be closed. So, don’t tell me that a school doesn’t have an impact on a community. Maybe Lugoff needs to join with Camden schools because you only have a river (less than 1 mile) separating your two areas. The Bethune area has 17 miles separating them from the North Central area. If one had done their homework on the economic impact a school has on a town, they would have found that the following businesses closed after the high school was taken away from the town of Bethune. By the way, these businesses contributed to the entire tax base for the school district. Now everyone in Kershaw County has to pay higher taxes because the following businesses are not longer in existence:

Logan’s Floor & Wallcovering, Newman’s Sales & Service, City Laundry & Dry Cleaners, M&B Boutique, Baker’s Florist and Gifts, Bethune Country Club Restaurant, Piggly Wiggly grocery store, Deborah’s Auction Barn, Smith’s Petroleum Products, Bryson Insurance Agency, Bethune Western Auto & True Value, Graham’s Hair Fashions, Betty’s Alterations, Butter’s Septic Systems, Bethune Truck Stop, Bethune Video Town, American Auto Parts & Sales.

The above businesses are gone and thanks for a former Kershaw County school board, they will probably never return.

I’m sure there were people who were disappointed the last referendum did not pass. Thank the good Lord we live in a free country where we can vote and the majority of votes count. But think back: there was a close voting on the last presidential election between Obama and Romney. However, there was no recall voting in that very important election. Why, if the majority of the people have spoken in Kershaw County’s last voting (go back and look at how the areas where the majority of the voters cast their votes not to have a Phase 2), would Dr. Morgan and the Kershaw County school board want to spend more taxpayers’ money when that money could be used for maintenance? For once, take care of all the children, regardless of their geographical location. Why? You would take care of these children because you truly care about their safety, their education and their welfare.

When I read that “one” school is taking and draining it out of the classroom for every other kid, I’m reminded of the story where King David took beautiful Bathsheba for another one of his many wives, but not before he had her husband, Uriah, sent to the front line of a battle knowing he would be killed. King David thought he had fooled the people, but the truth came to light when the prophet, Natham, came to David and said there was a rich man who had lots of sheep, but he desired the sheep of the poor man, the one little ewe lamb which the owner had nourished and which grew up with him and his children, but it didn’t matter, the rich man took it anyway. David became very angry to think someone would steal the poor man’s prized possession. Then Natham told David that it was he (David) who took the poor man’s prized possession -- Bathsheba.

I thank the ones on the school board who seem to care about small schools in vast territories, but shame on the rest of the Kershaw County school board for following in the footsteps of King David and attempting to take the town of Bethune’s prized possession, their successful little elementary school.

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