School board buys new office with money marked for schools - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Kershaw school board buys new district office with money marked for schools

By Jody Barr - bio | email

CAMDEN, SC (WIS) - The Kershaw County School District spent $1.25 million this month to buy a brand new district office with money from a fund that was supposed to go to school building renovations. Only one school board member voted against the proposal.

The 28-acre lot will house the superintendent's office and district staffers, and will provide a new space for school board meetings. Board Chairman Joey Dorton said in a press release that the new offices would be more centrally located in the county, and the deal was too good to pass up.

Board member Dr. Charles King, the only board member to vote against the buy, said the money should have gone to renovate the county's decades-old school buildings. "Every school you walk into, you will find something that is of a critical nature," said King. "And when I say critical, I'm talking essential to the instruction of our students and in some cases, in keeping them comfortable and safe."

"I feel like we're putting a non-essential, non-instructional luxury, if you will, in front of critical instructional needs for our students," said King.

King, a Camden businessman, owns a gym, but spent the majority of the past couple decades as a teacher and principal in Kershaw County schools. King says he voted no because he says there are unused buildings the district owns that could have housed the office, like the district's old consolidated learning center.

"Does it need a little money spent on it to bring it up to snuff?" King asked about the center. "Absolutely, but it certainly wouldn't be to the tune of $1.2 million."

District Superintendent Frank Morgan and Spokeswoman Mary Anne Byrd were not available for an interview on Monday.

King says the district still can't afford it, no matter how good the deal was. "I might be able to get an $80,000 car right now for $50,000, does that mean I can afford it? No," he said.

King says the money should have been spent on the district's decades-old school buildings. One example is Mount Pisgah Elementary. Part of the building was built in the 1920s, with the only addition to the building in the 1950s. King was principal at the school and says it needs to be renovated, along with more than a dozen others.

In October, the district made a list of school buildings with what the district labels "critical needs." The list of 15 schools shows millions needed for heating and air renovations, classroom additions, and security cameras. The money spent on the new district office, according to King, could have knocked a dent in the list.

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