This week I am writing to address a few issues that warrant addressing, particularly because of their impact on a certain segment of our community. Sadly there are many others in better positions to address these concerns, but they choose not to do so. I received a call from some of our school personnel about a situation they said was insulting to them. I was told that the superintendent and various media sources showed up at some schools to publicize what is happening in our district. Which of in itself is not unusual at all. What was a little unusual though was the fact that even though several board members attended the presentation, no member representing a predominantly black district was present, so I understand. Having attended several board meetings where I literally heard board member Pipkins ask about assignments to various committees and be ignored, I can’t help but wonder if that was happenstance, or a deliberate attempt to only capitulate to those who are in favor of all that is presented, without question. What is happening appears to be steeped in conservatism, rather than being a legitimate method of operation. Conservatives appear to have a way of burying their heads in the sand and going along with practically anything. But then, I guess it would be reasonable to ask, what legitimately reasonable board would cede away most of its operational authority to its employee? To the extent that, that employee embarrasses the board at one of its regular meetings on 7-11-2019. When said employee was asked by a board member about the proposals that were supposed to be presented to the board for approval, in relations to how the eight (8) percent money was to be spent on various projects. The employee responded by stating that the priorities had been set already, because, if he had to wait on the board to get things done, nothing would ever get done. To me, that sounds like a reprimand from the employee to his employers. Which even though it probably has some merit, based on a board that meets five or six hours practically every time they meet and very rarely do they get the people’s business done. Usually, they have to resort to additional, called meetings and executive sessions to finally cede away their responsibility to their employee. So, if by chance it didn’t embarrass the FSD1 board of trustees to have their employee talk to them that way in an open forum, then I will take the initiative to be embarrassed for them. Because, what it does at the very least is show that there is a great degree of Dysfunctionality on the board, as if the 5 and 6 hour and longer meetings doesn’t accomplish that. I was as well, told when I asked if the Community Times was in attendance at the presentation of the districts food service program, that they were not. So, out of curiosity, I called DBS COMMUNICATIONS and inquired about why they didn’t attend such an event. Since not all people subscribe to the local daily. And since over fifty percent of the student population is Black, it would just seem to make sense that the Black Media would be given an opportunity to cover such events. But I was told that, hardly ever is the Black Media contacted or provided the opportunity to participate when it comes to Florence School District One. I was as well told that FSD1 even appears to have a problem returning calls and responding to e-mails from the Black Press. So hopefully there are no exchanges of financial resources in any of the transactions between our school district and the other Media outlets. That definitely wouldn’t seem to be fair to the fifty five (55) or more percent of the population that support our schools with their tax dollars. With that, and what appears to be a deliberate reversal of the gains that were made by Blacks in administration. My recommendation for you this week is that you start paying attention to your school board meetings. As well, we recommend your getting involved with what is going on educationally and business-wise in our school district. There is an old adage that might help you understand why, you need to participate, the adage states that the squeaky wheel gets the most grease. That meaning more or less, that when you see something, you ought to say something. Because I was told as well that some people who might be a part of an online group, that the administration participates with, has begun to Live stream board meetings on social media, were present at the meeting I mentioned before that was held to present the new method of food delivery at the schools. Might that suggest inclusion and exclusion if based on something other than interest? What was presented at those top down presentations, can hardly be considered as anything new, since it is my understanding that the same Chef that has been providing the professional development and training, is still doing so. Food for thought; I wonder if in two years or so we can expect for the district to have at least a four (4) million dollar or more surplus since that amount was mentioned as a possible amount the past system produced. If not, how will the district be able to purchase the things they used the revenue produced by FOODSERVICE in the past on? Did a dysfunctional board, accept (seven hundred and fifty thousand) 750,000 dollars per year to replace millions of dollars of surplus, or maybe I am mistaken in how I am calculating our potential losses. It seems like some genuine transparency and accountability would set me straight. Where is the investigation at this point, into lost revenue, will we ever know the outcome? And will we ever know how various lawsuits are resolved? If TAXPAYERS money can be spent in secret, and since the board can’t be counted on to carry out their responsibility as overseers of our district, then might that not invite corruption of some sort? By the way, if there is no surplus next year, can the public call SLED to investigate? What happened in a relatively short period of time that allowed our school district to go from refusing free lunch for all, to accepting it at some schools? Doesn’t that kind of fly in the face of suggestions that the economy is doing better than ever? If the other schools can’t qualify to get free lunch, how do they qualify to potentially rob resources like TITLE ONE from poorer and lower performing schools? How is it that some students and families are able to transfer across town, to take advantage of academic programs, while other students and parents are denied the right to transfer for the very same reason? To add insult to proverbial injury some students and parents are provided transportation to receive services that others can’t take advantage of. What is the difference in going one way to take advantage of Montessori and not being provided transportation and going in the opposite direction to participate in the IB PROGRAM and be provided transportation? WAKE UP!
SINCERELY YOURS, I AM NOT SAYING, I’M JUST SAYING!
ELDER, JAMES W. WILLIAMS
CHAIRPERSON, ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION, LIFELINEPLUS