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The Three-District Proposal Map


Standing Room Only at School Board Meeting


A standing room only crowd of well over 500 crowded into the Anderson County Library for the Anderson County Board of Education's release of the Strom Thurmond Institute report on consolidating Anderson County School Districts

     The night before students returned to the classroom in Anderson County, a large and loud crowd packed into the Anderson County Library Monday night for the presentation of a sponsored study recommending the potential consolidation of Anderson County School Districts.

     As reported in The Anderson Observer last month, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View from Anderson County, South Carolina," by Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute for Government and Public Affairs, offers a proposal suggesting that a three-school district plan is the best fit for Anderson County.

     It was a conclusion which met a chilly, but vocal reception, from the standing room only crowd.

     Meanwhile, the Anderson Board of Education, said the presentation of the report was in no way an endorsement of consolidating school districts, but simply the putting forth of options which would benefit all the students of Anderson County.

     "This is not about saving money," said Mike Gray, a member of the Anderson County Board of Education. "This is about the best way to education all the children of Anderson County, to make sure that every child in the county has the same opportunities and resources for a quality education."

     But the three-district plan, which would essentially cut the current Anderson School District 5 in half, was responsible for most of the questions and comments following the presentation. Why some method of sharing of resources was not the primary recommendation of the study on the agenda for those who had read the study.

     "I find it option 3 (the three-district plan) offensive," said Mack Burris, Chairman of the District Five Board of Trustees. Burris said the visionary programs in Dist. 5 were visionary and took years of hard work. "Some people just want these programs handed over to them."

     Paul Talmadge, another member of the District 5 board of trustees, while commending the Anderson Board of Education, suggested that vision, leadership and commitment would make for better schools, not a "simplistic" formula attempting to equalize enrollment and money in each district. Quoting liberally from sections throughout the report, Talmadge said consolidation is not a "magic formula" for improving schools and said Dist. 5 had been a countywide leader in education and should not be dismantled.

     "Killing the goose that laid the golden egg is not the way to reach your goal," Talmadge said.

     Betty Bagley, superintendent of Anderson County School District 5, said that meaningful education in the county needed to come from the leadership of the superintendents of the districts and their trustees.

     "Give the five superintendents and the five boards the chance, give us the time and we will bring a proposal that will provide educational opportunities to all the students of Anderson County," Bagley said.Anderson School District 4 Superintendent Lee D'Andrea agreed.

     "We can work together, to share resources, to use the technology available, to find a way to meet the goal," D'Andrea said. "Sharing is a better answer, a better solution."

     Holley Ulbrich, lead researcher for the report, opened the presentation by saying the study was commissioned "to identify ways to ensure equal access to a quality 21st-century education for all of Anderson County's children at a reasonable cost." (download summary of the report here). Outlining changes to the county since the current school district lines were drawn in 1952, the report outlined five options for meeting the stated goal: Consolidation/Redistricting; Centralization and Decentralization; Tax Base Sharing; Service Sharing; and the Do Nothing, or status quo option.

     Most of Ulbrich's presentation focused on the first option of consolidation/redistricting. The study examined the potential for one, two and three school districts for Anderson County, with the three district model, "tweaked every 10 years or so."

     The full study, first reported here, was released following the meeting. The report concludes redistricting into three school districts would "most efficiently meet" the stated goals of the study. But it also notes other options which involve sharing of services, authority, tax base and/or resources would be "the most challenging to implement, but also has the greatest potential for creating schools and districts that are truly both local and equal.

     The recommendations of the study will be reviewed by a Anderson Board of Education commitee. The commitee will make recommendations to the full board. If a recommendation is made to make substantial changes, such as consolidation of districts, a referendum will allow votes to decide.


School Meeting at 5 p.m., STI Report at 6 p.m.

     The regular meeting of the Anderson County Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. today at the Anderson County Library, followed by the official presentation of the report on realigning the county's school districts from Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs. The report, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View From Anderson County, South Carolina," outlines in great detail the case for reorganizing the county's schools and recommends three districts as the best fit for Anderson County.


News Briefs

     The Anderson County Board of Education will meet at 5 p.m. today at the Anderson County Library. Details of the meeting are here.

     Anderson County public school students return to class tomorrow for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school. It will be a full day of classes.

     Anderson County Council meets tomorrow night at the council chambers at 6 p.m.

     The Anderson Observer will talk about the Wednesday launch of our new 24/7 newspaper Tuesday morning on WRIX 103.1 FM.


Tour De La France to Help Cancer Association

     A new event offers a new way to ride into the Labor Day weekend this year and help the Cancer Anderson County Spokesperson Angie Stringer, holds up the yellow Tour De La France jersey, as Interim Administrator Rusty Burns looks on at Friday's press event.Association of Anderson. On Sept. 5, the "Tour De La France" will offer a 13.74-mile trek, which begins at 8 a.m. at La France Elementary School, and a mini-ride of 1.8 miles for beginners and chidren, which begins at the Great Escape and ends at the Anderson County Farmer's Market. Electric City Transit will provide transportation back to the school or the Great Escape.

"We are really pleased to be a part of this event," said Rusty Burns, interim administrator of Anderson County. "The Cancer Association of Anderson is an orgazination that is near and dear to my heart. The work they do is very meaningful and cannot be duplicated."

As part of the event, a Bike Rodeo will also be held at the Great Escape with free bike helment fittings and free helmets while supplies last.

The bike event is also aimed at raising awareness for the Anderson County, City of Anderson Complete Streets Program. The complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Sponsors for the event include Cancer Association of Anderson, City of Anderson, Anderson County, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Great Escape, the Complete Streets program, Safe Kids of Anderson County, Imagine Anderson, the Anderson County Farmer's Market,La France Elementary School and the Mayor's Committee on Disability.


Merging School Districts Report to be Presented Monday

     On Monday night, authors of a study by the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, will provide details of their research and recommend a three-district option as the best fit for Anderson County. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Anderson County Library. The public is invited.

      As first reported in The Anderson Observer, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View From Anderson County, South Carolina," outlines in great detail the case for reorganizing the county's schools into three districts instead of the current five. The $58,000 study, commissioned by the Anderson County Board of Education, was commissioned in 2007 to discover "the best ways to equalize educational opportunities for the county's public school students."

      The report concludes that three school districts, instead of the current five, would provide "more nearly equal student population, assessed value per pupil, and growth potential in order to achieve a more uniform allocation of resources across the districts."

     More details on the report can be found in our original story here.


Dist. 5 Names Teacher of Year

     Chad Allen, a seventh grade science teacher at Southwood Middle School, was named 2009-2010 TeacherChad Allen of the Year for Anderson School District Five at the district’s Back-to-School Celebration held Thursday at the T.L. Hanna High School Gymnasium.

     Mr. Allen is beginning his sixth year as a teacher, and has spent his entire career at Southwood. He is a graduate of T.L. Hanna High School. Mr. Allen succeeds Anne Harder, an English teacher at T.L. Hanna, as the district’s newest Teacher of the Year.

    The other finalists for District Teacher of the Year were Renee Brissey of McCants Middle School and Judy Woodard of Whitehall Elementary School.

     District Employees of the Year were also named at Thursday’s event. They are as follows: Adult Education, Wilhelmina Rhoe; Custodial, Harriet Martin of Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Food Service, Cornelia Smith of Whitehall Elementary School; Maintenance, Dwight Sutherland; Instructional Support, Ann Berry of Lakeside Middle School; Non-Instructional Support, Gail Wells of New Prospect Elementary School; and Transportation, Rosa Maxwell.

      The Teachers of the Year as named by individual schools are as follows: Robin Bracken, Calhoun Academy of the Arts; Gretchen Skelton, Centerville Elementary; Laurie Miller, Concord Elementary; Teresa Kinert, Homeland Park Elementary; Perry Howard, McLees Elementary; Veronica Davidson, Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering; Felecia Lucas, Nevitt Forest Community School of Innovation; Anna Patterson, New Prospect Elementary; Sylvia Fowler, South Fant Early Childhood and Education Center; Candace Maddox, Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Hedrick Lewis, West Market Early Childhood and Education Center; Judy Woodard, Whitehall Elementary; Linda Hagen, Lakeside Middle School; Renee Brissey, McCants Middle School; Chad Allen, Southwood Middle School; Richard Morand, T.L. Hanna High School; Linda Johnson, Westside High School; and Jonathan Jennings, Hanna-Westside Extension Campus.

     The Adult Education Employee of the Year finalists were Wilhelmina Rhoe, Helen Sablan and JoAnn Vickery.

     The Custodian of the Year finalists were Curtis Harris, Whitehall Elementary School;
Harriet Martin, Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Doris Walker, Centerville Elementary School; Sallie Willingham, T.L. Hanna High School; and Charles Young, Nevitt Forest Community School of Innovation.

     The Food Service Employee of the Year finalists were Jane Crocker, Southwood Middle School; Alice McCullough, T.L. Hanna High School; Joyce Parnell, Centerville Elementary School; Cornelia Smith, Whitehall Elementary School; and Kristi Stone, Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering.

     The Maintenance Employee of the Year finalists were Steve Callaham, Robert Davis, Ray Jensen, James Randolph and Dwight Sutherland.

     The Instructional Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists were Everette Adger, McLees Elementary School; Ann Berry, Lakeside Middle School; Kim Cothran, T.L. Hanna High School; Darron Cowan, McCants Middle School; and Lajuana Jones, Hanna-Westside Extension Campus.

     The Non-Instructional Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists were Sue Cowan, District Five Administrative Office; Melinda Little, T.L. Hanna High School; Leigh Stroud, Calhoun Academy of the Arts; Myra Stroud, Southwood Middle School; and Gail Wells, New Prospect Elementary School.

     The Transportation Employee of the Year finalists were Linda Hawthorne, Linda Kinley, Dwayne Martin, Rosa Maxwell and Irene Shetrompf.


Canning Preserves Tradition, Taste

    See Food section for full story.


S. Fant, W. Market Get Fresh Produce Grant

     Students at South Fant and West Market early childhood and education centers will be encouraged to boost their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to a federal grant making healthier eating easier during the upcoming school year.

     The two early childhood centers are among 51 South Carolina public schools taking part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The 51 schools will be sharing a $1,172,650 grant from the USDA in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

     Funds will go to purchase and serve a wide variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables, providing fruit baskets inside classrooms, kiosks in hallways and other innovative approaches to give youngsters a chance to grab a healthy snack throughout the school day. The aim is to create a healthier school environment.

     The SDE’s Office of School Food Services and Nutrition is partnering with the state Department of Agriculture to work with local farmers to purchase home-grown fruits and produce for the program.



Program Aims to Keep Kids in School

     The United Way of Anderson and Anderson School District Five are joining forces to help keep teenagers in school through a program called Graduate Anderson. On August 29, teams of school and community volunteers will go knocking on the doors of potential dropouts and invite them to return to school. The event will run from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at T.L. Hanna High School for training and information before making their way to local neighborhoods to visit both T.L. Hanna and Westside High School students.

     The program will target students who have not attended high school classes during the first 1 ½ weeks of school, said Tripp Dukes, District Five’s Assistant Superintendent for Planning & Analysis. It is patterned after the successful Graduate Greenville program operated by the Greenville County School District.

     To volunteer or for more information, contact Tripp Dukes at 231-1780.


3,000 Unique Visitors in 8 Days

     The Anderson Observer continues to attract attention from readers, even though we have not actually published a full edition. One more time: thank you for your interest.

     Please tell your friends, family and neighbors we are here. If you own a local business or know someone who does, encourage them to consider advertising in Anderson's source for news from people you trust.


Facebook Buys FriendFeed

     PALO ALTO, Calif., -- Just as The Anderson Observer signed up for Friendfeed, Facebook announced that it has agreed to acquire the innovative service for sharing online. As part of the agreement, all FriendFeed employees will join Facebook and FriendFeed's four founders will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams.

     "Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends," said Bret Taylor, a FriendFeed co-founder and, previously, the group product manager who launched Google Maps. FriendFeed's founders played key roles at Google for products like Gmail and Google Maps. At FriendFeed, they've brought together a world-class team of engineers and designers. FriendFeed is based in Mountain View, Calif. and has 12 employees. will continue to operate normally for the time being as the teams determine the longer term plans for the product. Financial terms of the acquisition were not released.

     For other information, visit The Anderson Observer Facebook site.


Hot, But No Record

     As temperatures pushed 10 degrees above normal Monday, the high of 99 fell short of the August record of 106 set back in 1954, when only the drug stores and movie theaters boasted air conditioning. The average daily August temperature for Anderson in August is 89.

     Temperatures are expected to stay in the upper 90s for the next two days before giving way to thuderstorms and temperatures back in the upper 80s.