Officials discuss closing Bamberg Co. school; parents worried about health

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock; May 7, 2008

EHRHARDT, S.C. --- The end of the school year could mean the end of one Bamberg County school, sending kids to a different school. But, the problem parents have, the school the kids are going to has mold and mildew in it.

A group of about 30 people met with News 12's Gene Petriello because they want to keep their kids safe and their local elementary school open.

Bonnie Burgess and her friends are in a fight to save their children's elementary school.

"It is the heart and soul of our community and we feel it's better to keep our kids close to home," says Bonnie.

Late last month, the Board of Trustees from Bamberg School District One voted to close the doors at Ehrhardt Elementary School and move those students to Richard Carroll Elementary Camps A and B.

"We feel it was closed under a cloak of darkness. We didn't know about this. It was brought up in a meeting under a line of items of budget concerns," says angry parent Wes Ulmer.

"It was sudden, I suppose. Unless, you've been looking at signs pointing to that inevitability," says District Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting.

The district saying closing Ehrhardt is a financial decision. Bonnie's not happy about having to change her kids' path of education, especially with one of her kid's having allergies and asthma.

"There's mildew and mold, there's a health issue there (at the potential new school)," says Bonnie.

"We do have it. We try to stay on top of it as best we can," says the Superintendent.

News 12 wasn't allowed inside Ehrhardt, but a parent took pictures and sent them to us.

"This school (Ehrhardt) there's no health issues. There's no mold. There's no mildew. No sinking. If anything, why not send them to our school," asks Bonnie.

"It's a good physical shape school," says Wes.

"There are some problems up here (at the A and B school). There are also some problems at Ehrhardt. It does happen to probably be in better physical shape," says the Superintendent.

These parents are also telling News 12 the new bus rides their children would have to be on are no walk in the park.

"Have to be up at 5 in the morning to catch a bus at 6. Then, they don't come home until 5 in the afternoon," says Bonnie.

"We are possibly going to be able to cut off 10 to 15 minutes for some of our bus rides," says Schwarting.

While that's their anticipation right now, Schwarting says things could change, but not until the voters decide to, "step up to the plate with a referendum to build a new K-4 school. (Until then) we are going to have to make the best," says Schwarting.

She adds, they have found that there is no statistical difference between those with upper respiratory sickness at the A and B school compared to other schools in the district.

We did ask if it is a possibility the Ehrhardt School could be saved. But, the Superintendent tells News 12, she knows those who voted to close the school stand behind their decision. She adds, never say never, but the chance of the doors of Ehrhardt to be open for the next school year seems to be unlikely.

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  • by school mol parent Location: Ehrhardt on May 21, 2008 at 08:11 PM
    If everything had been out in the open instead of covertly done atleast people would have felt they were a part of the process.Instead ,in keeping with the District's "closed door policy", people felt excluded. Who are "these people"?They are taxpayers,they are parents,they are Booster Club members,teachers,business people.In short,they are us.When is the present administration going give us the respect that we have earned .Has Mrs.Schwarting and her board forgotten they work for us? We would like to see her budget reflecting these so called savings as compared to the additional cost of fuel,additional buses and drivers,modular buildings,and retention of all employees from Ehrhardt. If there is no other way to fix this problem , then there should be nothing to hide . Why doesn't she publish all the figures in our local paper where everyone can see. Then we can assume she and her board will be accountable to that budget .
  • by Kathy Location: NY on May 16, 2008 at 04:41 PM
    I too was a prior resident of S.C. and guess what my children attended the Bamberg district 1 schools. I can understand these parents anger over having there children sent to this school. My son attended Richard-carroll school. He was in the 3rd grade. He fell way behind and in New York was doing great! Well, guess where we are now? He's where he should be now and has a A average. I hope these parents contuine to fight and fight some more. It's like there right to a fair and upstanding eduction for their children is being taken away from them.
  • by Sharon Smith Location: Dundee NY on May 16, 2008 at 04:09 AM
    JO & YAJ (although you are one of the same) As a former SC resident, I take interest in this article and am really appalled that you have the nerve to tell a concerned parent who is concerned for the safety and welfare of her precious children to shut up. As I read your posts, I can't help but think that if I couldn't spell or used such poor grammar as both of you, I CERTAINLY WOULD SHUT UP and not comment on a parent's concern regarding her children's education and safety. Maybe if the decision is made to keep the "elementary" school open they just may have an extra seat for you. You obviously need to worry about your own "issues" and not interfere with a parent's right to defend their children's safety and education rights. Bonnie and all the other parents: you are doing the right thing for your children and I commend you! Don't allow some illiterate person that obviously never cleared elementary school to interfere with the rights of your children!!
  • by Anonymous Location: EHRHARDT SC on May 9, 2008 at 01:35 PM
    To the 2 ALL CAPS COMMENTS ABOVE it is obvious that you are the same person posting 2 different locations. If you went to Bamberg school to learn how to spell I sure don't want my kids there. I personally think there are to many over paid upper administrative positions and to decrease these cost alone would alleviate some of the financial problems. Ehrhardt is a great school. We have wonderful parents and teachers. It is a shame that our own teachers have been threatened by the administration (SUPER INTENDANT) that basically if they take part in the support to keep Ehrhardt open their jobs would be at stake. We need a new Super Intendant for starters. Hopefully she will retire soon and let a more qualified, honest person take over and stick to running her "store".
  • by Tonya Location: Little Swamp on May 9, 2008 at 11:11 AM
    I really hope that the school board will reconsider this whole thing and revote. I believe that the children zoned to go to Ehrhardt should go to Ehrhardt and not be allowed to go to Bamberg until they can no longer go to Ehrhardt. This would make the attendance more in Ehrhardt and we would not have to lose our school. Actually, Bamberg has took Ehrhardt's Kindergarden and fith grade in recent years.
  • by Vanda Location: S.C. on May 9, 2008 at 07:11 AM
    I'm glad you are running this story! Our children have to face health risks everyday, so why willing put them in one knowingly! We are responsible for the welfare of our children. I wonder if DSS would feel that this is a safe enviorment for our children. Um! wonder if they would think it's neglect to do this willing knowing the health risks. Just A thought!
  • by Terry Location: SC on May 8, 2008 at 07:16 PM
    I'm sorry that some people feel there is no reason to be upset over this issue of Mold and Mildew! I beleive ms. Burgesses older children according to the news did not go to these elem. schools at Bamberg only Ehrhardt. I'm glad to see some parents still care about the health and welfare of there children. For Ms. Burgess to speak out for all children not just her own I beleive takes courage that we see not many have these days. Thank-you news channel 12 for helping this small comm. get out a story that should be told.
  • by Tonya Location: Little Swamp on May 8, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    This school has operated all these years. The kids are much safer in Ehrhardt than Bamberg. My kid goes to Ehrhardt but she will NEVER go to Bamberg!! Too much has happened there that has been covered up! Oh and about the mold issue in Bamberg, it's the long term effects that the kids will have. They can't go by the healthiness of them now. they really need to speak with a Dr. because they will tell you that mold causes health problems!!
  • by Bonnie Location: Burgess on May 8, 2008 at 09:43 AM
    Thank you so much for coming out and telling our story. I thought you might want to know that news chan. 6 will be out here tom. at 12 noon.
  • by YAJ Location: SC on May 7, 2008 at 06:50 PM
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