City school system dead in the water

Published 2:17 pm Thursday, March 10, 2022

Any hopes of a separate school system being formed for the City of Greenville were quashed this morning when Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon announced on the Kyle and Dave Morning Show that a city school system would not happen while he was mayor. 

The possible formation of a city school system for Greenville has been a hot button topic for many Butler County residents as of late. A public forum was held a few weeks ago on the subject, but turned into a controversial affair when residents were promised answers but were left with nothing more than a “how to” lesson on forming a school board.

 McLendon said during the radio program the possibility of a separate school system is “over and finished,” and he would do things differently had he the chance for a do over.

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“I will tell you, (that meeting) is one of the most embarrassing times in the history of this town in the last 34 years,” McLendon said. “We are going to go back to taking care of the city of Greenville. The votes are not there to do a city school system from the council . We have made the decision to not talk about this anymore. It’s over.”

McLendon hinted that the money and help the county school system has been receiving from the city of Greenville would not be included in future budgets. He said the city has never turned down any request for help made by McKenzie or Georgiana schools prior to them being unwilling to work with the city on the school system. 

 “They don’t want us involved,” McLendon said. They don’t want to work with us, and that is ok. They want our money, but they don’t really want to work with us. We saw that that night. The main person that got up to talk early on was a person hired by the school system (referring to the county school board attorney). He got up there and that’s ok, those are the kind of things that happen; he has a right to get up there. We were called out, there was no way I was going to say anything because no matter what I said it wasn’t going to be the right thing.”

McLendon said he feels the Greenville City Council was attacked by the county school board. 

“Nobody’s intent was to control anything, I can assure you,” he said. “Over the last 15-20 years the city of Greenville has done everything a town, I think, our size can do to help the school system from the standpoint of paying $800,000 a year to the school system. Some years it was less than that…. That was the city putting money into a Butler County school system. We also were involved during that time of helping with a refinance of a bond issue that they thought was going to get $600,000, but ended up getting almost $3 million.” 

According to McLendon, Greenville has also covered the expenses of school resource officers for the high school and middle school, parades, and all types of maintenance needed by the schools. 

“We have been spending around $150,000 a year on those kind of things that are in the school because we want to have a good school system,” he said. 

Greenville stopped paying the $800,000 this year, giving the city a small break and a little savings, before the city begins payments of $300,000 for 13 years per a previous agreement. The $300,000 will be going to different schools according to McLendon. 

“When you figure it up, that is right at $4 million (the 13 year agreement at $300,000) that we would be doing. We already have done millions of dollars. Over $10 million dollars that (Greenville) have been spending over the last 15 years on all the things that we do (for the Butler County school system),” McLendon said. 

McLendon said it is not about him, but about the children.

“What I am saying to you is, we’ve been committed to education for more than one reason. Yes, we all love the kids; love the kids; everybody loves the kids,” he said. “We have been putting (money) in (schools) because we want to make a difference.”

Following the City School Forum, McLendon said he spoke with each council member except one about their thoughts and how they would vote. 

“The deal is, the opportunity and the chance of us finding five people that want to deal with something like (what happened at the forum) and to be put on that board to do what we need to do is nearly impossible now,” McLendon said. 

According to McLendon, he and Butler County School Superintendent Joseph Eiland met for two hours Wednesday discussing the school system and how to move forward. 

“He made some good points. I made some good points. But this is what I know, we are not wanted,” McLendon said. “We have been treated, it’s unbelievable how we were treated. I believe education is still important.”

The mayor said the council will focus on new items for the city of Greenville and the city school system will not be discussed in any manner going forward.

Butler County Superintendent Joseph Eiland did not have much to say about the mayor’s announcement.

“I am relieved that the proposal is seemingly abandoned and that we can move forward with our mission to serve students across Butler County.  I pray that every municipality in this great county will come along-side our students, staff, and school and system leaders to truly help us grow and excel.  We are stronger together.” Eiland said.