Forum Speakers Oppose $109 Million Referendum

A scheduled forum on the District 55 School Bond Referendum last night consisted of a lot of talk opposing passage of the $109,000 referendum.

State Representatives Mike Pitts and Mark Willis were listed as speakers, but were held up with the Legislature in Columbia.  Pitts sent a statement to the event in opposition to the referendum.

The keynote speaker was Keith Tripp, Laurens County Republican Party Chair, who described the choice as elitism vs. common sense. In opening remarks he criticized a banner in front of Laurens High that states “Every Student Every Day College Bound.” He called that an expression of an elitist attitude, and that people interpreting that would say, “You mean there is no one in that school is going to be a plumber, carpenter or a farmer?” He said he was told the banner didn’t mean what he took it to mean, and said      “Common sense asks me to ask that if the people leading the charge for a $109 Million dollar (referendum) can’t get a six-word banner right, what else are they telling us? To question what more are they are saying that they don’t really mean?”

Tripp suggested that rather than focus on the building that houses the school, the focus should be on basic academics that do not undermine moral issues, and that is not revisionist history, and to provide a safe environment without gangs and drugs, with enforced discipline, where teacher get respect. He said opposition to the bond is not to be viewed to disrespect to teachers, and that we should not forget the main thing.

Republican Laurens County Councilman Stewart Jones told the audience “We all want a better future for our children, but not by giving the government more power.” He said “The government has a monopoly on our schools, but we should look at Georgia, Florida, and Indiana, who has given parents more school choice with vouchers.” Referring to previous meetings held by the School District, Jones complained that folks who spoke out against the referendum were given a lecture on racism.

There were questions from the audience, and one person asked how difficult it would be to recall school board members in an election, and another asked what would happen if, during the 30 years of bond payments, federal funding for schools stops, or is greatly reduced due to the huge national debt.