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Friday, June 14, 2024 - 08:55 PM


First Published in 1994


Opponents Claim Teachers Want Money Spent on Other Things

Roger-MeekParents and teachers in Greenville County are getting virtual “whiplash” from back and forth decisions on classroom supplies by members of the school board.

Earlier this year the school board approved the budget for School Year 2010-2011. Due to budget considerations the board deleted all funds for the reimbursement of teachers for out-of-pocket purchases of classroom supplies needed by students and not provided by the school or parents that had been included in budgets in recent years.

With all incumbent board members in even number districts up for reelection and facing opposition this year, and complaints being expressed by both teachers and parents, the board voted in the Committee of the Whole to restore $125 for each teacher. The $537,500 required was to be transferred from the reserve fund.

Something happened on the way to the regular board meeting where the funding for classroom supplies was to be formalized and made immediately available to teachers during the second week of a new school year.

In the meantime, businesses and parents raised $175,000 for classroom supplies through a highly publicized game that pitted local celebrities against Greenville County 5th Graders.

Six of the board members continued to make a strong case for providing the money as reimbursement to teachers. Several others had changed their minds and six board members no longer supported the reimbursement.

Lynda Leventis-Wells led the opposition and Roger Meek was the leading supporter of providing the funds.

Meek argued that in some low income areas of the County, parents and the PTA cannot pick up the slack in funding for classroom supplies.

Leventis-Wells said she had voted for the money in the COW meeting but changed her mind. “Teachers want the money applied toward furloughs rather than supplies,” she argued.

Dr. Crystal Ball O’Connor said she voted “no” at the COW and is now convinced she was right. She said, “teachers accept sacrifice. One teacher told me ‘If I get money I will give it to the principal’.”

Meek was supported by Leola Robinson-Simpson who said:  “We can be penny wise and dollar foolish by failing to provide essential items to classrooms.” She gave several examples such as sanitizes for preventing the spread of germs.

“This money is of utmost importance. We have the responsibility to keep promises to children in high poverty areas. When we vote this down, we are hurting some teachers in high poverty areas,” Robinson-Simpson emphasized.

Debi Bush said that her greatest concern is that “this is a morale issue. Some teachers are paying out a lot more than $125. Teachers who don’t want the money don’t have to take it.”

A heated exchange took place between Meek and Leventis-Wells. O’Connor chimed in: “When we disagree it doesn’t have to be personal. It is disappointing to turn this into negative talk.”

“I apologize if I stepped on anyone’s toes,” Meek added.

Someone said the PTA’s could pick up the slack where teachers can’t pay for the supplies.

“We can’t put all the load on the PTA,” said Chuck Saylors, explaining that some of the PTA’s are having trouble raising funds because so many people are out of work.

Patrick Sudduth said he was voting for the measure because “I believe it will benefit students.”

The proposal to reimburse teachers for up to $125 for classroom supplies failed to pass on a 6 to 6 tie vote. Seven votes in favor are required to pass the measure. Board members voting in favor were Debbi Bush, Roger Meek, Leola Robinson-Simpson, Chuck Saylors, Patrick Sudduth, and Glenda Morrison- Fair.

Those voting in opposition to providing the funds for classroom supplies are Tommie Reese, Lynda Leventis-Wells, Dan Moravec, Danna Edwards, Crystal Ball O’Connor and Megan Hickerson.