Governor visits Allendale schools
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster met with officials and visited Allendale-Fairfax High School Friday, Dec. 1.
The governor first met at noon with Interim Superintendent Dr. Walter Tobin and Allendale School Board members in a closed meeting at the district office.
He then went to the high school where he was met by a formation of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), welcomed by Principal Darlene D. Hall and led on a tour throughout the school.
McMaster’s press secretary Brian Symmes said the governor had wanted to visit all the schools involved in the “Abbeville” lawsuit which argued that rural schools were not funded equally with non-rural schools. Even though the 20-year-old lawsuit was settled on Nov. 20 by the S.C. Supreme Court, the governor still considered the visit a priority.
This is particularly of concern in Allendale County where the schools were taken over by the State Department of Education in July in a “state of emergency” due to failing academy performance.
“For him to show interest, to come to where the action is, is important,” said Dr. Tobin. He said he and the governor had an opportunity to talk about the challenges faced in Allendale County and rural schools, particularly teacher recruitment.
“We have 10 teachers that live in Allendale County. There are 59 who drive in, 10 who are retired, 5 are contract instructors and we have 28 international teachers,” said Tobin.
The governor listened. “The key to education is good, strong principals and teachers,” said Gov. McMaster following the tour. “The challenge is how do we get teachers to come to our schools?”
He said the factors impacting teacher recruitment are varied and indicated he is trying to gather information in order to chart a path for action. “We need to have the very best teachers we can have,” said McMaster.
For the students, meeting the governor was exciting. Several of the honor students sat down with McMaster for a short chat. McMaster told them that there are a lot of jobs available in South Carolina for those who are willing to work. “Now’s the time,” said the governor.
He invited them to visit the South Carolina Statehouse and the Governor’s Mansion.