Members have been selected for a committee to study the possible consolidation of Barnwell County's three public school districts, though no meetings have taken place.
The committee has yet to meet, but Chairman Tim Moore, a local attorney, said they will tentatively meet in early September. He said he's been doing some research before the first meeting.
Moore along with SouthernCarolina Alliance director Danny Black and former county councilman Thomas Williams were appointed to the committee by the county's legislative delegation. They join two members from each of the three school boards: Ethel Faust and Inell Waring from Barnwell District 19, Ferlecia Cuthbertson and Michael Hutto from Williston District 29, and Chad Perry and Teresa Spence from Barnwell District 45.
The Barnwell County School Consolidation Study Committee was formed in June after state lawmakers passed a bill. Sen. Brad Hutto said he's had several people ask him about consolidation recently, which is why he introduced the bill.
The nine-member committee is tasked with studying how the districts could be consolidated, such as eliminating repetitive positions. "It's not about the schools as much as it is the districts," said Hutto, citing how the bill specifically states the committee should not study the attendance lines for the schools.
The whole point is to do the homework on what will produce "the best environment to learn and thrive" - whether that's having three districts or just one. "What's best for the students? What's best for the county?" asked Hutto, adding how some counties have seen financial savings after consolidation.
The committee has until March 1, 2015 to submit a report on their findings to the county's legislative delegation. "They need to give it their best effort. They need to come up with a report," said Hutto.
While state lawmakers don't need the districts' input or permission to consolidate, Hutto said it's important to him to have input from the community. "This is their chance to have input. I want them to be open minded," he said of the committee.
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