Mural, mural on the wall


By: Sheri Watson

Mural, mural on the wall, how does Colleton County School District prioritize its money haul? Tuesday, October 18th at the CCSD board meeting it was brought to light that a large sum of monies was allocated for mural projects for at least two of the schools in the district.

Superintendent, Dr. Vallerie Cave, was questioned by school board member, Sharon Witkin about mural projects at the middle and high schools. Witkin questioned how much money was allocated for the projects, the source of the funding, and why the school board had no prior knowledge of the murals before notifications from community members. State approval and an itemization of expenditures have not been provided to date to the community.

The cost of each of the projects varied between $15,00-$25,000 and they are represented as “Interactive Learning Walls”. Cave also stated that the monies came from “Priority Funding”.

The four schools in CCSD are classified as “Priority Schools” and entitled to receive “Priority Funds” are Bells Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Hendersonville Elementary, and Colleton County Middle School.

Cave explained “You can use priority funding for various things. You can use priority funds for artisan residents. You can use priority funding for academic improvement, and for buying books. You can use priority funding for instructional aids. You can use priority funding for anything that it is approved for.”

Witkin countered, “I understood that. But the approval part is what I’m concerned about. Because the board was not made aware. But we did get reports on how priority school funding would be used for the benefit of the academic achievement of our students. So I would like more information, if I may, about the murals and how they will aid our students in years to come.”

State and federal guidelines have specific criteria to aid in the decisions that need to be made in order to be awarded educational stipends. However, in the case of most grants, there are multiple programs that can be selected. The local public school system has a direct impact on the community, and choosing programs should be for the greatest long-term result.

Questions from the community:

Who are the artists commissioned for the murals at both CCHS and CCMS?

Where are the artists from?

Did the students or the artist paint the cougar at the high school?

Did parents sign waivers of liability for participating because of the use of scaffolding?

If the artist painted it, how is that a direct learning experience for the students?

Who planned the designs? Was it the artists or the students?

What are the learning opportunities for the students?

How does a mural “learning wall” become a priority over academic improvements, buying books, and instructional aids?

What were the other potential programs that could have been up for consideration in lieu of the artist residency mural project?

Does “Priority” and “Aid to District” funding include provisions for materials, supplies, curriculum components, and expendables needed in the classroom?

Budgets are slashed every year and teachers are forced to do the same job with more expectations and fewer and fewer resources. The community wants to know how and why the learning wall project took priority….stay tuned for updates on this community hot topic.