To the editor:
Scotland County Schools rank 100 out of 178 districts in the state, according to schooldigger.com. During the 2012-2013 school year, Scotland High ranked 340 out of 564; Sycamore Lanes Middle School dropped 99 positions, ranking 445 out of 618 and Wagram Elementary ranked 1024 out of 1310 with IE Johnson Elementary ranking 1076 out of 1310 in the state.
Scotland County has the highest tax rate in the state and has lost major businesses because of it. The loss of business has created one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. We now have an above-average violent crime rate and according to bestplaces.com, a property crime rate of seven out of 10, the rank of one being the lowest and four being the national average. We have gang activity, drug use, and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state.
Scotland County is the only county in the state that has a state floor tax for our schools. Instead of providing before, during, and after school tutoring for our students, we have low scores. Our teachers have to buy supplies out of their own pocket. Our school officials have failed to provide a safe and positive education for our students. Parents, who can afford it, have put their sons and daughters in private or alternative education. Our school board prescreens speakers at public meetings and refuses to hear or answer questions. This is a clear violation of our First Amendment rights. They are able to violate our rights and spend money anyway they want because they are guaranteed funding under the state floor tax law. To continue to spend hard-earned tax payer dollars on a failed plan is unacceptable.
Raising taxes will drive more businesses to close or relocate, causing taxes to rise even higher. It is time to fix our schools’ overpriced and poor education system. We need to vote board members in that will restore our constitutional rights and allow us to speak openly and answer our questions. We also need to elect state representatives that will appeal the funding law. To continue to support a funding system that only benefits a select few is a detriment to our community, our students and economic development. This is evident in our schools standing, our high unemployment, high crime rate and loss of businesses. Our commissioners are working hard to improve Scotland County but it takes more than one body of government to be successful. We have some of the most kind, generous and polite people in Scotland County and we deserve better.
Mike Gallo, Chief, US Navy
Schooldigger.com is a website that ranks schools based on the sum of the average of all the school’s standardized math and English test scores — editor.