Aiken County leaders visit Columbia County schools

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News 12 First at Five, March 23, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- Aiken County leaders are looking for how they can improve schools in the county, and today a fact finding mission to Columbia County was scheduled to do just that.

“It's always important to take folks outside of their environment and see how other people are doing things,” said Aiken Chamber President David Jameson, “We learned a lot today.”

The tour began with business, education and government leaders from Aiken County getting on a bus and making the trip to Columbia County—making several quick stops at different schools along the way. Their final destination was Grovetown High School where they were given an hour long tour by students there.

“There's no comparison,” said Jameson, “We haven't built a new high school in Aiken County since the mid 80's--these are modern, they're efficient.”

As it stands now—Aiken County has 19 million dollars a year to use for new schools and improvements. Some leaders feel that a penny sales tax would be able to double that amount that could be pumped into the system.

However, South Carolina state law does not permit counties to even vote on a change to sales tax unless they meet certain requirements. Aiken County representatives are currently working at the state level to get that law changed so a penny-tax could be voted on.

Nonetheless, the visit to Grovetown High School today opened a lot of eyes of what could be in Aiken County.

“Columbia County has closed three schools to build new schools,” says Jameson,“ the three schools that they closed would be seemingly as modern as some of the buildings that we're still using.”

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