Orangeburg County School District trustees failed to approve a plan last week that would have housed some of the district’s administrators in Orangeburg and some in Cope.
The proposal would have placed the new school district's office of curriculum and instruction in a separate location from other key district departments.
It failed to pass with a vote of 4-4 vote with one abstention.
Voting for the proposal were trustees William O'Quinn, Idella Carson, Chair Peggy James-Tyler and Mary Ulmer. Voting against were Vice Chair Betty Pelzer, Debora Brunson, Ruby Edwards and Vernell Goodwin. The Rev. R.L. “Poppy” Brown abstained.
Under the failed proposal, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5’s Founder’s Court facility would have housed the new district's board room, superintendent, auxiliary services, public information service, human resources, finance and food services operations.
The curriculum, instruction and student services departments would have been housed in Cope at the current District 4 headquarters on Slab Landing Road.
Interim Superintendent Zona Jefferson said the reason separate locations are being considered for the departments is due to the lack of office space at the Founder’s Court building.
Currently, there are about 20 individuals under the chief of curriculum and instruction, with each needing an office.
Goodwin and Edwards questioned why curriculum and instruction were not being considered for the Founder’s Court location with the superintendent, noting the department will be a key component of the new school district and needs to be centrally located.
Goodwin suggested modifying the plan to make room for the curriculum and instruction department at Founder’s Court and moving food service or perhaps public information to another location.
"If the board says can we modify and make it happen, why can't we go and make adjustment to some things?" Goodwin said.
"You hired me for my professional opinion," Jefferson said. "That is it. I come here with 39 years of experience."
Goodwin said just because the board hired Jefferson, it does not mean they will always agree with her.
"We can disagree," she said. "We have an opinion as well."
Edwards expressed concerns that the field trip which was supposed to help the board members learn more about the facilities never occurred.
"We have not visited the schools like we wanted to," she said, adding that she did not know enough to make an educated vote.
O'Quinn reminded trustees that July 1 is fast approaching and decisions need to be made as to where individuals are going to be placed.
"We have a time crunch here," he said. "In this day of super technology, in my opinion, it doesn't matter if the chief of instruction and curriculum is sitting right next to the superintendent or across the county because of the ability to communicate. I think we need to take that into consideration."