Serving Barnwell County and it's neighbors since 1852

Letter to the Editor: Using the education lottery to lower taxes?


Dear Editor,

Sometimes people tend to cut off their noses in spite of their faces.

The first thing is the consolidation of schools throughout our state. Some schools in our area have two, three and as many as five substitute teachers in classes when children need a trained, certified teacher.

Some teachers have left their jobs due to COVID; however, many left because of the situations they have been put in by this “consolidation.” Teachers are not being supported, being burdened with work a teacher should not have to do, and the lack of stability in their jobs.

Parents all over South Carolina, as well as citizens in general should approach our legislators and ask the questions. Where is the money from the “Education Lottery” going? The promise made when the lottery was put on the ballot was the money would go to “EDUCATION.”

It goes to education. Higher education. How does the state place higher education needs so much more than K-12 needs. Less than 3 million dollars annually goes to K-12, when over $590 million per year goes to higher education. First, we have to educate kids in grade school to get to higher education. Nearly one half of graduating students do not go on to college or tech schools.

In most states which have a lottery reduced taxes of their citizens. South Carolina did not and has not reduced ANY taxes on citizens. The state still gives the same 57 percent of the budget to education. If they used lottery money to pay part of that 57 percent, income and other taxes on citizens could be lowered.

A small percent of the annual lottery proceeds could raise teacher salaries to a level competitive with other states. Our schools can KEEP QUALITY teachers in our classrooms. Legislators will get paid anyway.

The voters will not stand up and tell them to reconfigure the lottery money so that more money goes to K-12. Kids won’t need college if they don’t get a basic educational foundation.

Now the consolidation is supposed to include Barnwell District 45 in 2023 - I’m waiting. If this happens under the proposal you will see MANY abandoned, boarded up buildings in Barnwell County. I know Barnwell 45 has built a new school in the past 7 or 8 years, but I invite ANYONE to visit Blackville schools and see what a school should look like. Our cafeterias, restroom, classrooms, gymnasium, auditorium, and floors are second to none. We have the ONLY auditorium with padded theater seats - all functional. Senator Hutto said in the last consolidation meeting before the pandemic, Blackville was the ONLY district with ALL schools meeting state standards. Yet we are the ones losing our autonomy and our community.

You should look carefully at the persons elected to school boards. We have people seeking office who have never stepped inside a public school in Blackville, know nothing about school finance or operations. Some just hold a seat, others just for the nothing.

Barnwell County and this state should hold our legislators’ feet to the fire and demand better funding for K-12 education. With $3 million a year for K-12 compared to $590 million for higher education - this is a slap in the face of our students and teachers.


Carroll Priester,


Former Blackville-Hilda Public Schools board member