Laurens Co. School Board Tables Controversial Changes

11:26 AM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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by Chris Horne, 13WMAZ.com

STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

- Laurens County parents were upset by a proposed change to begin school days earlier.

- Superintendent Rob Johnson says it was a misunderstanding.

- The controversy that spread on Facebook may spawn a school board Facebook page to keep parents updated.


Parents in Laurens County took to their inboxes and to Facebook before voicing their displeasure at a school board meeting Monday.

An email intended for school officials started to make the rounds in the community because of "drastic" changes in the start time for their schools. Some even forwarded the email to 13WMAZ and urged us to cover that night's school board meeting.

Superintendent Rob Johnson told 13WMAZ's Elise Brown that confusion was at the heart of the controversy.

He says the proposal was made to cut down on bus wait times, and to separate elementary, middle and high school students by starting bus pick-up times earlier in the morning for the elementary school students.

After that idea was floated and the email circulated around Laurens, the conversation moved to Facebook where community concern grew.

But Johnson says the proposal was never more than just an option. At the end of the day, the board tabled the idea anyway.

However, for some parents, the problem is deeper than just the proposed schedule change. They say the way they learned about the proposal made them feel like there was a lack of transparency.

The email, Johnson says, was sent to the school board to get feedback from principals before presenting the idea to parents.

Though the changes were tabled, Johnson says he wants to avoid future communication problems -- perhaps by starting a Facebook page for the school board to keep parents in the loop.

A self-described "eternal optimist," Johnson says he encourages people to get involved and attend the meetings like they did Monday night.

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