About 40 people heard Laurens County Republican Party Chair Keith Tripp and Laurens County Councilman Stewart Jones speak out against Laurens County School District 55’s proposed $109 million referendums to be held on Sept. 5, 2017. State Representatives Mike Pitts and Mark Willis were scheduled to speak but were not able to attend.
The Common Sense Coalition for a Better High School is a newly-formed group of Laurens County residents who are opposed to the $109 million tax referendum to build a new high school in District 55. Their mission is to “work to stop this referendum, plan rallies and discuss strategies.”
“Other meetings were controlled by the school district,” said Tripp. “A different perspective will be presented tonight. My main goal is to give us something to think about.”
Tripp talked about elitism when referring to District 55 and challenged the signage outside of LDHS, which reads “Every Student, Every Day, College Bound”.
“That says a lot about the thinking of the people that put that there,” said Tripp. “It says that all students are heading to the same place. What about plumbers and electricians and people that work with their hands.”
Tripp challenged the recent editorial from members of the District 55 board of trustees. He said that the editorial was arrogant and elitist. “It says that their decisions are not to be questioned,” said Tripp.
“The value of a school is dependent on the teachers and the students,” said Tripp. “The question is not what you want but what you need. You need to live within your means.”
Tripp said that he would like to see a school where students are taught the basic academics, where parents and children decide the best educational path, where students feel safe and are safe, where there are no drugs and gangs, and where teachers are respected.
“The main thing is to stop this $109 million grab for our tax money,” said Tripp. “We need to keep the main thing the main thing. If it is removed, if the referendum is withdrawn or if it is defeated, then we can look at other common sense plans.”
County Councilman Jones focused much of his speech on school choice and competition in public education. Jones is an advocate for a free market for education.
Jones attended two of the community forums hosted by District 55. “I was alarmed about some of the things said,” said Jones. “I was told to come with an open mind and what they meant was to come with an open wallet.”
Jones presented some ideas to improve the education system for taxpayers in Laurens County. He recommends combining District 55 and 56, fix current facilities and add additions, partner with business and industry, offer more online classes and allow school choice.
“A big new building does not make for a better education,” said Jones. “