Concerned pastors consider suing Sumter School District after financial blunder

Concerned pastors consider suing Sumter School District after financial blunder

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - They call themselves the Sumter County Concerned Clergy.

"We've been in existence here for 40+ years, and throughout that time, we have been concerned about issues, be they social, political, whatever issues that affect our people," said one of the members, Franklin D. Colclough, a retired Presbyterian minister.

The issue they're concerned about right now – financial problems plaguing the Sumter School District. The district recently discovered a $6.2 million deficit that led leaders to pass cost-saving measures totaling about $6.8 million.

"This issue boils down to mismanagement and a lack of oversight," said the pastor of Love Covenant Church, Angela Frederick.

MORE: Sumter School District approves $6.8M in budget cuts

"There have been some that have been affected at my church – coming in just asking, you know, for prayer. 'There are things in my life that I won't be able to do because I don't know the uncertainty of the amount of money I will make or will my hours be cut,'" added Pastor Sammie Simmons of the St. Mark 4B Missionary Baptist Church.

Earlier this week, a consultant explained what went wrong. 37 people were hired by the district without adequate funding. Several departments for the district were over-budget too.

"It's very disturbing to me," said James Goodman, the pastor of ALIVE Praise & Worship Center.

"I believe that Sumter can do better than this," added Pastor Marion Newton of the Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church.

The Concerned Clergy is hoping the district will own up to its mistake. They're hoping for a change in leadership – starting with Superintendent Dr. Frank Baker.

"For being a decent man and a nice person, he gets a real high grade. For being a good administrator, at best a D minus, maybe even an F," said Randolph Black, an associate pastor at Westend Community Church.

The community members say they won't go away until there's more accountability, whether they have to fight for it at the ballot box or in court.

"If this group has to take legal action, we are willing to do that," said Newton.

"We hope and pray that it doesn't go that far, and we hope and pray that somebody would have enough integrity to just stand up and say, 'Listen, maybe we might need to let someone else fill my seat," added Black.

Monday night, the consultant said, with any luck, Sumter schools could see a turnaround in the problem as they get ready for the next budget year.

It's important to point out that during that meeting some did speak in support of Superintendent Baker.

Back to the clergy, they told WIS some people are trying to make their issue with the issue about race, but they wanted to point out that's not the reason they're opposing Baker.

They say the issue is in no way a racial one.

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