History of Education, Page 3
In 1977 the Legislature passed the Education Finance Act, which reformed and strengthened state financial aid for public schools. The act recognizes local financial ability, requiring every district to pay its 'fair share' for education. The Education Improvement Act (EIA), cited by the Rand Corp. as a comprehensive model for education reform, was passed by the Legislature in 1984. Supported by a one-cent increase in the state sales tax, the EIA included more than 70 new programs or major revisions to existing education statues.
The passage of those two acts greatly influenced the costs born for education and county operations by local government. The acts combined with unfunded mandates by both the Federal and State governments have added to the financial burden on the local government. In 1965 a new teacher might be paid $3,600 for nine months' work. (Caywood 2001) The 1969-70 appropriation of 23 mils was at the rate of $3,846 per mil. In 1969 in McCormick, one mil would barely pay the salary of one teacher for nine months. Records show that the value of the mil in 1988-89 school year had risen to $9,800 and the total mils assessed by the District was 84 mils. The value of one mil was no longer covering the base salary of a teacher.
The Savannah Lakes development opened in February 1989 and with the added commercial buildings and the first homes, the millage value rose to $12,300 in 1992-93. The School Levy was 121 mils and covered a bond that was used to make school repairs. In 1999-2000 school year the levy was 108 mils with a value of $23,011 per mil. The mil still doesn't cover the base salary for a teacher. The district where Dr. Hunter, the new District Superintendent, previously was employed had a mil in excess of $580,000 and Greenville has the highest value, which exceeds $1,000,000.
Dr. Sandra Calliham was hired in 1989 as Asst. Superintendent of Education. One of her major contributions to the school system was the ability to write successful grant proposals to augment education needs in the District. Over her tenure with the District she managed to add an average of $500,000 a year for school funding. Some of these programs included early childhood development, drug education, computers and technology training, wireless systems for ETV, intervention programs, arts programming, and School Resource Officers (police in schools) to name just a few. This $500,000 contribution equals approximately 22 mils of taxes annually that were not assessed if calculated at the value of the 1999-2000 school year. Clearly financing education in McCormick County is a challenge.
With the advent of new regulations in school construction, new technology and safety needs, the McCormick County School Board initiated a study by Dr. Darrell Spencer in 1996 to assess the buildings and make recommendations for remodeling or new construction. His study is on file in the County Library. Based on additional information, the School District, over a period of time and based on procurement regulations, secured an architect to design new facilities. The original bond referendum in February 2000 did not pass for many reasons. The District created the Blue Ribbon Task Force to address the issues associated with the bond failure and make recommendations for the next step.
The events that have brought us to this point are early state laws, the Civil War and Reconstruction, an agrarian economy, segregation, separate-but-equal policies, an agrarian economy followed by the Great Depression, multiple school districts, unpaved roads, consolidation, integration, white flight, and the lack of a tax base to pay for top quality teachers and administrators, construct quality schools, and maintain schools properly.
The Task Force learned a great deal, including that the state of education in McCormick did not occur over night and that the historical perspectives that voters educated elsewhere bring to the table will no doubt be much different than the perspective of long-time residents. Hopefully a better understanding of the events will help bring consensus on future education decisions.
The historical project was undertaken to have a full understanding how events and actions affected education in McCormick County. It would not have been possible to reconcile all of the different events without the accessibility to historical information previously published by Edmonds, Patterson, the McCormick Messenger, and others. Thanks to the School District employees and Mr. Parnell who answered countless questions and located an historical map. A special "thank you" to residents and non-residents who patiently answered my questions, especially P.C. Dorn II, and Mayor Miriam Patterson. To Charles Jennings, Jr., thank you for freely discussing the experience of attending a one-room school and the difficulties which included walking miles on clay roads to get to one. To Johnny McCracken, thanks for so thoroughly explaining the state school systems (elected and appointed) as well as explaining the process used during integration. To those who read this, hopefully this document has helped to provide a better understanding of the development of education in McCormick County, South Carolina.
Nancy Lindroth, Modoc SC
Edmonds, Bobby F-The Making of McCormick County-1999
Giles, Sharon P-The Silver Anniversary Chronology-Piedmont Technical College-1991
Lindroth, Nancy-Timeline of McCormick County Education by Decade and Facility-2001
McCracken, John-Explanation of Superintendents, Integration, and early financing-2001
Mecklenburg-Charlotte Historic Properties Commission-Rosenwald School Study-1987 as found on the Internet
Pettus, Louise and Chepesiuk,-The Palmetto State Stories from the Making of SC-1991
Rogers, George C, Jr. & Taylor, C. James-A South Carolina Chronology 1497-1992-1994
SC Dept of Education-Web Page outlining History of Education in SC