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District 55 trustees plan Wednesday teleconference; hoping work gets accomplished

Laurens, S.C. – A teleconference planned for noon today, Wednesday, May 3, will attempt to take care of business addressing new hires which has been delayed for the last two weeks after Laurens District 55 Board of Trustees meetings on April 24 and May 1 adjourned before business was attempted.

The Wednesday meeting is an attempt to get the business of the district taken care of, and the closed conference type call is not new for the board. The new issue of small numbers, however, due to recent resignation of three board members, is tricky, District 55 Board Chair Cathy Little said.

“We have conducted these calls in the past and the public has the ability to listen, but there is not public participation during a special called meeting at any time,” Little said. “With a 7 member board, a quorum is 4 members to conduct business. This is certainly not ideal; however, we must move forward. The actual discussion of the contract recommendations will be held in executive session, but the vote will be in open session.”

A District 55 employee sets up a microphone to allow trustee Mike Hughes to join in Monday’s special called meeting.

During the original special called meeting on Monday, May 1, as the 6:30 meeting of District 55 trustees opened, only School Board Chair Cathy Little and trustees Peggy Nance and Anthony Carpenter were in attendance, as a large crowd of spectators, many of them vocal, voiced their opinions right up to and even as Little attempted to call the meeting to order.
A District 55 employee set up a microphone to the telephone at Trustee Mike Hughes’ vacant desk, but for the second time in just over a week, the meeting ended before the agenda could be approved.
While it was later learned that two trustees, Todd Varner and Neal Patterson, had resigned prior to the Monday evening meeting, Little did not mention their resignations as she called for a motion to accept the agenda and begin the meeting. James “Bubba” Rawl resigned in early April to accept a position with the State Dept. of Eduction.
“We can make a motion and approve the agenda or we can adjourn,” Little said. “We need to consider why we are here, and it is for the teachers and the students. To get our business done we must move forward with the meeting and we can’t do that without approval of the agenda.”
When members of the public voiced dissatisfaction with the telephone for Hughes, Little said it was very common during COVID, which brought another round of protests.
“If we can’t approve this agenda, we can’t get teacher contracts approved,” she reiterated.
Eventually Little made the motion herself, but it died for lack of a second and approval and she adjourned less than five minutes into the meeting.
Superintendent Ameca Thomas, Little and Nance left quickly and only Carpenter remained, as did large groups of protesters and others who quietly watched.
“We do need to do the contracts,” Carpenter said following Monday’s meeting. “Most of the teacher contracts were already approved and these were the new hires. I’d spoken with a couple of board members today but apparently they didn’t decide to show up.”

On Tuesday evening Carpenter said he felt the Wednesday meeting would be an opportunity to complete the needed work.

Another called meeting will be held via a phone conference call today (Wednesday) at noon.
According to the agenda, the May 3 meeting will be broadcast via Live Feed on YouTube with the link posted on the LCSD 55 website and the LCSD 55 Facebook page.

While this includes an update from Wednesday morning, the majority of this story ran Page 1 in the Wednesday, May 3  issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.

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