Charleston County School Board members concerned about nonprofits working in district schools

Some of Charleston County’s highest-poverty schools are so overwhelmed with volunteers that students’ instructional time is suffering.

District leaders recently made that admission to the school board, and that’s one of the reasons some board members voted against an extended commitment to the nonprofit Charleston Promise Neighborhood.

“Are you kidding me?” said board member Elizabeth Moffly. “This is the perfect argument for why we should not vote on (giving money to them).”

That’s not her only concern. Moffly said she’s tried unsuccessfully since 2010 to get a comprehensive report on the nonprofits working in district schools. There isn’t oversight or accountability for those groups, she said.

“We don’t have a handle on it,” Moffly said. “For me, it is about getting back to the basics of reading, writing and math.”

Other board members also are interested in that information, and they want to see the amount of public money the district has given to nonprofits and what it has received in return. District staff are slated to give the board a report this month.

Moffly was one of three school board members who voted against committing $450,000 during the next three years to the Charleston Promise Neighborhood. She was joined by Michael Miller and Tom Ducker, both of whom were concerned with the results from this investment.

“You haven’t demonstrated in your presentation that the results are there,” Ducker told the Charleston Promise Neighborhood leadership. “I’m willing to vote to pay that money for something that will work. But I need to know that it will work.”

Bill Hewitt, chairman of the Promise Neighborhood’s board, said the group has had only one full year of working in schools, but he has spent his entire career measuring results and this would be no different.

Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.

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