School Consolidation: Is It Dead?

Is the idea of consolidating Districts 55 and 56 now dead?

At Thursday evening’s strategy session  held at the Ridge at Laurens, Representative Mike Pitts said that he would not be discussing school district consolidation.  However, that didn’t stop Dr. David Pitts, member of Laurens County Council and Assistant Superintendent of Schools in District 56 from asking a question:  “Will the bill to consolidate Districts 55 and 56 be re-filed in January?”

In response, Rep. Pitts first handed the microphone to Sen. Danny Verdin.  Sen. Verdin said that he did not intend to be a part of a consolidation plan unless he was certain that it was something that his constituents wanted to see.

Rep. Mark Willis was also in attendance.  He stated basically the same position…..that in his eyes the request to consolidate would have to come from the people of Laurens County.

After a break, Rep. Pitts answered the question.  He said he was convinced that consolidation of the two districts was the right thing to do.  However, he said, it would be pointless to re-file the bill when he knew that he did not have the backing of the Laurens County delegation.

He gave several examples of benefits to students from consolidation.  Students in the Cross Hill area must now ride the bus all the way to Clinton to attend school when Waterloo Elementary School is just a few miles away……albeit outside of their current school district.  He also pointed out that managing the coming growth could be done much more equitably if there were one school district.

He suggested that the SC Department of Education was working toward having one school district for each county in the state and intimated that consolidation would eventually happen with or without local involvement.

So, while Rep. Pitts stated adamantly that he thought consolidation was the right decision he would not be re-filing the legislation unless something changes prior to the end of 2018.