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Bus Noise: Communication shapes policy

Bus Noise:

Earlier this Spring, our elected officials engaged in the annual tradition of budget vetoes and overrides. Some upstate policy decisions attracted statewide attention (like the Reauthorization and Reform of First Steps, and state funds to support the Children’s Museum of the Upstate). Hidden deeper within the veto efforts was another issue involving the Greenville County School District and state policy regarding buses and maintenance.

 

What happened: The SC Department of Education (SC DOE) is legislatively mandated to be the caretakers of the bus fleet used in the state. For years Greenville County School District has maintained several bus depots across the county (like Donaldson, Taylors and Golden Strip) where buses are parked when not in use. Those bus depots include space leased to the SC DOE Bus maintenance staff.

 

In an effort to help reduce operational costs and consolidate services, the District proposed selling one of these bus depots (one located near Haywood Road), using the proceeds to build an updated and centralized bus center at the Donaldson Center and moving the buses and maintenance office to this site. To do this, the state needed to approve moving the state SC DOE Maintenance offices to Donaldson. This was proposed three years ago. It was not acted on. It was proposed two years ago. It was not acted on. To force the SC DOE to support the Greenville County School District proposal, it was written as a proviso in the FY15 budget. The SC School’s Chief opposed the work. The Governor vetoed the proviso. It took the House and Senate to override her veto.

Why it matters to us: As Greenville County Schools took a proactive step to reduce overhead, and to use cost savings from those reductions to upgrade facilities. But, the SC Dept of Education, decided they knew better than Greenville how to reduce Greenville taxpayer burdens.

Selling property in highly developed areas like Haywood Road not only make fiscal sense, it makes logistical sense. Ironically, though, months later, leadership within the SC State Dept of Ed privately confessed they didnt understand the implications of the change, but rather thought it was about forcing state leadership to take on extra burdens. This has to stop.

 

Why it matters to me: For over 3 years I have been working in bi-partisan efforts with policy makers at the state, local, and federal level to measurably improve lives of families in Greenville County. I was honored to be chosen to serve as a member of the SC School Improvement Council’s Education Policy Fellows Program(EPFP). THE SC EPFP provides a year-long immersive experience that allows fellows time to discuss, explore, and challenge local and state policy. The SC EPFP program includes teachers, principals, PTA and SIC members from local school districts, and policy makers. The conversations are as rich as they are diverse, and the opinions are incredibly well informed on all sides of the issues. We learned that the real solutions are found when multiple sides of complex issues are discussed. We learned that much of the real work in SC happens through bi-partisan supports.

 

We have a real opportunity to help shape local and state policy. The voters of SC have the opportunity to choose a school board member that can enhance those opportunities through thoughtful, sound, reasoned, leadership. I understand how to build collaborative partnerships. As you look at my list of supporters, you will find a variety of thoughts, voices, perspectives, and political parties. This is the STRENGTH of my character: I can listen, discuss, and build consensus around what is best for our children, families, and community. I have 14 years of experience making things happen in our community.

 

If elected, I plan to continue to work with local School Board Members, Greenville County School Employees, and our Legislative Delegation to re-discover our voice within the inner workings of Columbia. And, if elected, I plan to strengthen partnerships with our community leadership to ensure we work towards a shared vision of Greenville’s future.

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