Only on 12: A second chance for Ehrhardt Elementary

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

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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  • by Jackson Location: Bamberg on Jun 9, 2008 at 11:18 AM
    This comment is in reference to the budget. As explained during the meeting on June 2, some monies are earmarked for particular areas and can only be spent in the named areas. It would be great if the money that comes in could go towards where it is needed the most, but that is not the way it works. If early childhood programs received extra money, that does not mean that it can be used for elementary ed (as an example). We need to keep this in mind when the budget is being reviewed.
  • by Gail Location: Bamberg on Jun 8, 2008 at 04:37 PM
    Where did 1:33 in Kindergarten come from as stated in Angie's comments below? If my memory serves me correctly, there are 100 students projected for 5K in 2008-2009 and the teacher to student ratio would be 1:20 with EES closed. In the case of EES staying open, the ratio would be 1:23 with RCEA having 4 teachers and 90 students and Ehrhardt having 1 teacher and 10 students. If EES remains open then perhaps the district should be rezoned.
  • by Cindy Location: Bamberg on Jun 8, 2008 at 04:14 PM
    I agree Angie, we need to consider ALL the students in the District and in doing so, we need to consider ALL the facts on how our tax money is being spent by this administration. Those who have attended all the meetings since April 28, 2008, are tired of hearing that unless you work in the education system, there is no way you can comprehend how a school budget works. Yes, we can understand it...the question is does administration want us to understand it? Clearly the answer is, "NO." They want to keep the School Board of Trustees in the dark and most importantly they want to keep the taxpayers in the dark. This District has approximately 1508 students and a proposed budget of over $15,218,789. Now you do the math...that is over $10,000 per student. My question is how much of that is administrative cost? Is anyone willing to answer that question? We need to put the money back into the education of our children which means somebody needs be held accountable for their actions.
  • by Angie Location: Bamberg on Jun 7, 2008 at 02:16 PM
    Let's hope all of the issues are resolved Monday night. We need the teachers from Ehrhardt very badly...if not, our classes will become way too large to manage. 1:33 in kindergarten is just not the wway to go. Please, everyone needs to consider all the kids in OUR district.
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