Sumter School District board chairman wants to slow down consolidation process

By BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 3/28/18

After community members said they were opposed to a district consolidation proposal and brought up other issues - such as bus transportation challenges - currently facing schools, the chairman of …

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Sumter School District board chairman wants to slow down consolidation process

Posted

After community members said they were opposed to a district consolidation proposal and brought up other issues - such as bus transportation challenges - currently facing schools, the chairman of Sumter School District's Board of Trustees wants to slow down the proposal process.

School board Chairman the Rev. Daryl McGhaney made his comments Monday night at the board's regularly scheduled meeting.

"The community members said they wanted all the schools to remain in their communities," McGhaney said. "I was there; I talked with them."

Partially because five of the six "community conversation sessions" had 60 or fewer people in attendance, fellow board member Johnny Hilton emphasized those views were of the community members who attended the meetings.

McGhaney responded to Hilton and said other community members he spoke with who didn't attend the meetings also were against closing schools.

After a few community members in the Dalzell area said at a public meeting last week that buses were already consistently late in dropping off and picking up their children, McGhaney said Monday the district and board need to sort out current challenges in the district before moving forward.

"We have unresolved issues right now in our district, and now we are going to make at some point another drastic decision that could have an adverse effect because we are not taking the time to sort out every detail of these challenges that we are facing right now," McGhaney said. "We shouldn't rush. We should take this time to consider all the issues before any decisions are made."

Hilton said the problem with buses should be considered as a separate issue from the consolidation proposal.

"That's a bus issue that we need to address with the transportation department," Hilton said.

McGhaney said he agreed.

On the district's behalf, all public school districts in the state are faced with a shortage of bus drivers, many officials say. The district held a bus driver recruitment fair a couple months ago that was well attended, according to district staff.

Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm said last week the district is working to get those applicants trained and on the road as bus drivers in the district as soon as possible.