bus

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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Preventing the “Summer Slide”

Parents Cannot Do it Alone: Preventing the Summer Slide

 

This past weekend, our family attended the Greenville Drive baseball game as a part of the Summer Reading All-Stars event. This program, a partnership between the Greenville Library System, Michelin, and the Greenville Drive, rewards students who reach summer-long reading goals.

 

With William, perched on my shoulders, I walked with hundreds of children and proud parents around the field prior to the game, as part of the end-of-summer celebration.

 

These families ensured their children read throughout the summer, not only preventing hours of summer boredom, but, practically guaranteeing these students enter school reading at a higher level than when they left. By taking advantage of resources provided by the Greenville Library System and Michelin, these parents armed their children with the best opportunities for school success.

 

Students who do not read will lose 2-3 months of reading skills over the summer. Over several years, this “summer slide” could lead to a student falling 2-3 years behind her peers. But, the families in the summer reading challenge are helping combat this.

 

Students like the ones I walked with, will head back to school reading ahead of many of their peers because their family took advantage of a support system to foster continued educational attainment. They made the most of summer vacation.

 

I believe a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. I believe that parents generally want what is best for their children. I believe that parents want their children to have all the resources possible to ensure the best possible future. But, through my 15 years experience at the YMCA and Greenville First Steps, I found that some parents lack the vision to help their children progress from where they are to where we want them to be.

 

Some don’t understand that reading 15 minutes a day is the single greatest predictor of school success.

 

Partnerships between the schools, local community partners, and parents can help strengthen family skill sets, and empower them to provide meaningful educational. Groups like Public Education Partners and the Greenville Library System partner with the Greenville County School District for summer reading programs to help empower parents to Make Summer Count.

 

As a School Board member I would encourage our schools to expand summer reading programs, partnering with local philanthropists to fund successful summer reading and math efforts. I will work to ensure that summer camps (like the YMCA, and Youth Base) work to integrate summer learning into their summer camp programs. These coordinated efforts will ensure families have the resources, trainings and supports they need to turn their homes into summer learning classrooms, fostering language and skill development that reduces the “summer slide” and empowers parents to work with their schools for shared success.