Open letter: Jan Hammond

I appreciate Dr. Melton and the board officers for honoring my request for a presentation from a legal council to the board and to the public concerning the reasons we were not able to build on the already purchased site for the much needed elementary school in the Chapin cluster.

Ever since we began the discussion of where to build a new elementary school in the Chapin cluster, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the Amicks Ferry site. This brought me to the question that I have been asking since last summer and that was for an explanation as to why we closed on one site 9 years ago and could not build on it.

Lake Murray elementary has endured gross overcrowding conditions for the last 9 years because we did not follow through on the new school approved by the 2008 bond referendum. The Derrick Pond site we purchased and conducted the site adaptations on should have been considered first, and at the very least the public should have been informed on why we did not build on something we had already purchased.

In December I made a motion to have the superintendent revisit the problem with the Derrick pond site before moving forward with the Amicks Ferry site but it failed in a 6 to 2 vote. I agree that in the future we may certainly need a school in the Amicks Ferry area but we would have been much wiser to have the infrastructure and EMS services to be there before moving ahead.

I voted against a site I will always feel is unsafe but I was only one of seven. We learned in the presentation last week, that had the former administrations been more proactive to solve the problem we could have built on the original site years ago and not be in this freeze procedure that is being implemented to solve the overcrowded conditions in the Chapin elementary schools.

I voted for this freeze without realizing all the complications it presents for our Chapin homeowners and for potential homebuyers. I have heard from so many that feel it is unfair and I have requested to our board chair and our superintendent to bring this second freeze plan up for discussion so that our public can voice their concerns. In closing I want to say that all options should be on the table as we plan for the future. Some areas are losing enrollment and others are growing. As a board we must bring equity to all our schools and protect the the integrity of every community. I encourage all community members from Irmo, Dutch Fork and Chapin to let us hear from you as we work hard to provide what is best for all our students in District 5.

Jan Hammond

School District 5 Board

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