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School Board chairman does not allow vote on motion to reverse Area 3 redistricting plan

November 28, 2018

MONETTA - School Board Chairman Tad Barber did not call for a vote Tuesday night on a motion that would have reversed a board decision that moved students who formerly attended Area 3 schools in Graniteville to Area 1 schools in Aiken.

Board member Dwight Smith made the motion that would have returned students who live primarily in the Trolley Run neighborhood off University Parkway near USC Aiken to Area 3 schools, including Byrd Elementary, Leavelle McCampbell Middle School and Midland Valley High in Graniteville. Board member Brian Silas seconded the motion. The board met at Ridge Spring-Monetta High.

In January, School Board members approved a redistricting plan that moved students from those schools in Area 3 to Aiken Elementary, Schofield Middle School and Aiken High in Area 1.

The new attendance zones went into effect at the beginning of the school year.

At the time the redistricting plan was approved, the School Board approved a grandfathering plan, allowing students in Area 3 to remain in the schools they attended last year until the final grade. The plan also allowed siblings of students who chose to stay in Area 3 also to attend those schools.

In his motion, Smith said that residents of Area 3 had stated that they wanted to remain in Area 3 schools during a series of town hall meetings representatives from the Aiken County Public School District held last fall.

Smith made a motion to add the agenda item concerning reversing the redistricting plan at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, and board members approved it unanimously without knowledge of the motion’s subject. The item did not appear on the board’s advertised agenda.

Barber said the board needed more time to consider the motion and to allow for public input. He also cited concerns with the Freedom of Information Act because the item was not included on the advertised agenda.

Other board members supported the redistricting plan approved in January, saying the decision was made to help alleviate overcrowding, especially at Midland Valley High, which is beyond its student capacity and where as many as nine teachers do not have dedicated classrooms.

Barber asked Smith to withdraw the motion, but Smith, who was elected to the board on Nov. 6, said he would not withdraw it, saying his constituents had elected him to bring their concerns about the redistricting plan moving students from Area 3 before the board.

Board member Ahmed Samaha made a motion to postpone the vote until a later meeting, but the motion failed by a vote of five to three. Sandra Shealey, the board’s ninth member, was not at the meeting.

After about a 30-minute discussion of the motion, Barber moved on to other business, and no action was taken on the motion.

The School Board does not have a designated parliamentarian, and the board no longer has an attorney on staff.

The meeting adjourned on a vote of six in favor, with Smith opposing the motion to adjourn and board member Jason Crane abstaining.

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