GOP avoids bad resolution

The Charleston County School District building at 75 Calhoun Street. (Leroy Burnell/File)

The last thing that Charleston County schools need is the kind of divisiveness inherent in a recent proposal to break up the district. Credit Charleston County GOP Chairman Larry Kobrovsky for taking a pass on that proposal from his predecessor.

Mr. Kobrovsky, who served on both the Charleston and state school boards, took the right course for the district and his fellow Republicans. The party needs to focus on things that it can do, he said, like recruiting and choosing good candidates for upcoming elections.

He is to be commended for not moving forward with a resolution to break up the Charleston County School District into five districts — and for not being lured by mission creep, which can drag down many an agency or organization.

Of course, the best reason to pull back on the proposal is that it is a bad idea, albeit one that surfaces every few years.

Instead of solving problems, deconsolidating the district would create a whole menu of new ones. For example, studies show that small districts spend a larger percentage of their budgets on overhead than larger districts, and they have less bargaining power. Students in smaller districts also tend to score slightly lower than those in larger districts.

And then there is the question of taxes. Would each district set its own tax rate to pay for its schools? If so, poor rural areas could suffer, and even wealthy areas like Mount Pleasant might find themselves in a bind if they lack a strong industrial tax base.

The proposal to the Republican Party came from Elizabeth Moffly, a former member of the Charleston County School Board from East Cooper and consistent critic of the district and its administration. John Steinberger, Charleston County Republican Party chairman prior to Mr. Kobrovsky, concurred with her.

It might be a good time to revisit the days before schools were consolidated when some parts of the county had far fewer resources than others. Consolidation was intended to provide financial as well as racial parity.

While the effort hasn’t been altogether successful — many enrollments are still racially lopsided — at least funding is more equitable.

Mr. Kobrovsky has his own opinions about the district. He doesn’t endorse Ms. Moffly’s idea of deconsolidation, but he does think there should be more citizen input over who holds leadership positions in its schools and how their money is spent. He also feels strongly that any changes should be approached in a non-partisan way.

They would have a lot to think about — like magnet and charter schools. It would be a shame for parents to lose some of the choice they have now about where they send their children to school.

And what about special needs students? Would each district need its own program to serve a small number of children?

The Charleston County School District has lots of room for improvement, and it’s healthy for individuals and groups to provide input.

But the resolution considered by the Charleston Republican Party would have led down a path that the district has traveled more than once. It’s better to encourage the district to look for other solutions.