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Wagener-Salley community calls for school upgrades, expanded career class offerings

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Teachers and community members called for expanded career and technology offerings and a new school building at Wagener-Salley High School on Tuesday evening.

The Aiken County Board of Education held a town hall meeting at the school to hear questions and concerns from the community. The town hall was the first of four town hall meetings planned for the school year.

Richard Bailey, a teacher at Wagener-Salley High School, expressed concern about his students' lack of access to the Aiken County Career and Technology Center, which provides classes in a variety of vocational fields.

"In my opinion, it's just a huge injustice to our students," Bailey said.

Samuretta Muldrow, who filed for District 1 seat in the school board's November election, also expressed concerns about career and technology education at Wagener-Salley High School.

Muldrow talked about a Wagener-Salley alumna who successfully pursued a career in graphic design, suggesting the student could have benefited from practicing and learning graphic design from high school classes.

"Let's find some monies and let our kids go to the career center in Aiken," Muldrow said. "Give us concrete reasons why they can't go."

Other attendees asked about future upgrades for Wagener-Salley High School and expressed frustration about not having been included in the upgrade projects planned a few years ago.

"How do you think that makes us feel?" asked one community member.

Aiken County Schools Superintendent King Laurence said Wagener-Salley is a No. 1 priority in the next round of building projects. There is about $13 million set aside for the school so far.

School board chairman Keith Liner said the school is now the oldest in the district.

School board member Sandra Shealey, who represents the Wagener area, said she was not surprised by the community's questions and concerns.

"The main takeaway is that our community wants new facilities, and they want to make sure that our students have the same opportunities that the other students around the district have, and I think that's important," Shealey said.

Shealey said the Wagener community's call for a new school building was one of the first topics she mentioned when she joined the board three years ago.

"Wagener definitely has not been forgotten. We're working on that, very hard," Shealey said, adding that her constituents can call her with any concerns.

Laurence said he was pleased with the turnout at the town hall.

Though he wasn't expecting to hear questions about career and technology courses, Laurence said he was glad the community brought up the topic.

"The questions were not easy questions, but it definitely shows that the community is engaged, they're interested in getting what's best for the Wagener-Salley area, and I think that's outstanding," Laurence said.

The school board will host three other town hall meetings during the spring semester. They will be:

Jan. 19, 2021: Silver Bluff High School.

March 16, 2021: North Augusta High School.

May 18, 2021: Midland Valley High School.

For more information about the Aiken County Public School District, visit acpsd.net.

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