March 25, 2014
In January, the School District of Pickens County released the AdvancED report outlining re-accreditation concerns and recommendations. Of particular concern were required actions directed at the school board’s duty to serve “in accordance with defined roles and responsibilities”, as well as to appropriately distinguish “the system administrative roles and the Board of Trustees legislative roles”.
While our community was not pleased with the AdvancED report, the required action recommendations did not come as a surprise for those who closely follow the discussions and actions of our current school board. Similar to the past situation in Clayton, Georgia, failure to address and comply with the AdvancED recommendations threatens the accreditation status for the School District of Pickens County, which in turn threatens our County’s economic development and sustainability efforts, as well as our student’s ability to advance their education at the college level. As the local voice of business, the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce is gravely concerned with the AdvancED report. However, the silver lining to this dark cloud has been the response to the report from the school district and the community.
In response to the negative findings and potential loss of our accreditation, we commend the school district’s administration for their openness to fully disclose the AdvancED findings to the community, as well as offer clear explanations of all recommendations. Additionally, the unified call to action from the business community, parents and concerned citizens have confirmed that our community expects, and will demand, a higher level of leadership and accountability from our elected school board members. And finally, we are also encouraged by the schools board’s action to hire Dr. Wayne “Dempsey” Worner to offer professional guidance and advice in addressing the AdvancED recommendations. The hiring of Dr. Worner is not only a giant first step in acknowledging the profound importance of maintaining our accreditation status, but it also signals that members our school board have possibly realized the community, who elected them to selflessly serve our children and educators, will no longer tolerate placing politics over the importance of quality education.
It is our hope that our collective call to action and the current response from our school board will be ongoing. As a community, we must support our elected officials at all levels of leadership, while holding them accountable to the duties of their office. As a school board, the top priority must always be to ensure top-quality education that encourages and sustains student achievement. AdvancED will conduct a follow-up review in April to access the school board’s progress on implementing a plan to address the cited concerns. In a recent letter issued to the community from Alex Saitta, School Board Chairman, and Kelly Pew, Superintendent, it notes that the school board is committed to “responding constructively to the concerns noted in the AdvancED report”…“to improving the operations of our system of governance”…and “as Board members, we will not shirk our responsibilities as we address this important need to better integrate the overall leadership of the educational effort in our county”. For the future of our children and community, we trust the school board’s commitment to honoring these statements will be both long-lasting and result in AdvancED’s approval of re-accreditation for our school district.
Michael Dent, Chairman
Board of Directors
Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce