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Letter: Reader says KCSD referenda not chamber issue

Posted: March 3, 2015 9:27 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Last November, we voted down the referendum that would empower the KCSD to tear down usable and functioning schools and construct replacement along with a new or rehabilitated Camden High football stadium. All it was going to cost was $130 million plus interest. But, fear not, they also asked us to approve a “penny” sales tax to pay for it.

Well, we were too astute to buy into all that, and the measures failed to pass. Case closed? Not by any means, and some things never change. Here it is only four months later, and they are already talking about recycling the tear down and rebuilt referendum on next (2016) November’s ballot. But this time, they apparently think they have an “ace in the hole.” You see, they are talking about taking the football stadium out of the plans because they apparently think a lot of us let memories of glory days at the present site jade our logic. The vote was close enough that, if all those people can be brought on board, maybe it would be a deciding factor. At least, that’s my opinion of their thinking.

Nothing has been said about trying to recycle the “penny” tax referendum. Apparently, the thought is to get us to approve the demolish and rebuild plan and the county council determine how to pay for it. Of course, the easy way for them to get the money from us is by raising property taxes -- no approval by the electorate is necessary to increase millage.

Now we read that the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce is surveying its members “to see if  business people may have liked some aspects of the plan” that we defeated four months ago. The chamber’s spokesperson says that she “feels strongly that this is an issue that this community needs to have our voices heard on” and further said, “We need to know what the business community thinks about this because the school district is going to come back to us when they decide to do a new referendum and ask if the business community will support what they are doing.”

Why do we need to know what the business community thinks, and why would the school district go to them for support? These referendums are decided by the electorate of the county because it will be paid for by them. I can’t see where the business community would be affected other than the fact that all their employees are members of the free thinking electorate. You may say if taxes are raised, a business will be affected the same as individuals. True, but a business can recoup their raised taxes by increasing the price of their goods and/or services. Their employees, the electorate -- you and I -- have no such option.

So, it is the voter, taxpayers, the parents, who will bear the expense and should have the say as to whether the referendum is passed and ensuing action taken or not.

In conclusion, we circled this block four months ago and should not have to fight this battle again 18 months from now. Further, unless I’m missing something, this is not an issue the chamber of commerce needs to chime in on. I fear, however, we had better get ready to go through this battle again or get our check books out.

�A ci`����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 was 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 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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