Only on 12: A second chance for Ehrhardt Elementary

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News 12 at 6 o'clock; June 6, 2008

EHRHARDT, S.C. -- Schools are out for the summer, but a parents' fight to keep their school's doors open next year in Bamberg County is making some progress.

Parents were surprised by a vote to close Ehrhardt Elementary School about a month ago. Now, there's a revote set for Monday. But there's some confusion over just what the vote is for.

Parents and grandparents are fighting hard, all over South Carolina, to save Ehrhardt Elementary School.

Now, Judy Harriett-Brandt and everyone else's work might be paying off. "We had to force the progress through basically having to threaten them with a lawsuit," she says.

News 12 has a copy of that lawsuit that was filed earlier this week with the Bamberg School District One. In it, parents say they were not given due process by having governmental action taken against their interest without proper notification. Simply, what they've been saying all along, the vote to close the school back in late April was a surprise.

News 12 asked, "What has it been like then, to now?"

Judy answered, "Frustrating puts it very mildly. It is a great diet to be on. You lose a lot of sleep and you do a lot of work."

Lots of paperwork, but for now, they've won. There will be a revote on Monday, but there is some confusion.

News 12 talked with Sheri Seigler, a trustee who represents Ehrhardt Elementary School. She said, "I don't know if there is going to be a vote specifically on the school. Bottom line, in the public didn't have a clue and neither did I about the April 28th vote."

News 12 talked with the District Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting late Friday afternoon by phone. She said, "There will be a meeting to discuss the operation of Ehrhardt Elementary School."

News 12 asked, "As a separate vote?

Phyllis responded, "As a separate vote."

She also added, "We did not concede to do that. We thought it was in the best interest of the district to do that."

"It's gotten us back to where we were at least going to have a vote and represent some of the facts or get to the bottom of the information that's been placed out there to the taxpayers," adds Judy.

Some of that information is over the projected budget for next year. Schwarting tells us they are getting $63,000 from the state next year, more than this school year. But she says that is not even enough to pay a teacher's salary and fringe benefits, let alone keep a school open.

We did try to talk to other Board Trustees, but they were unavailable to comment. The meeting will be Monday night at 7:30pm at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School in the Media Center.

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