School district shakeup tops 2012 news story list

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School district shakeup tops 2012 news story list

By TOM BARTON
tbarton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Monday, December 31, 2012   |  1089 Words  |  

It's been a year of change for the Beaufort County School District.

First, former superintendent Valerie Truesdale announced in July she would retire soon. A week later, she announced she was taking a job with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina. She left for that position in late October.

The district's head of human resources, Jackie Rosswurm, was named interim superintendent. Rosswurm has said she will not seek the position permanently. The Board of Education hopes to name Truesdale's successor in the spring.

The school board faces its own round of changes. In November, seven new members were elected to the 11-member board, leaving only four incumbents.

The turnover was due in part to redistricting based on the 2010 Census. Shifting boundary lines in several cases put two board members in the same district. Some declined to run against their fellow board members, and a few chose not to run to have more personal time. Redistricting also shifted a seat from northern Beaufort County to southern Beaufort County.

Chairman Fred Washington Jr., who has served on the board since 2006, lost his re-election bid to fellow board member Michael Rivers. A new chairman is expected to be elected when the board is sworn in Wednesday.

In other top news stories of 2012:

SEA PINES DREDGING ADVANCES

Plans for dredging clogged waterways and marinas inside Sea Pines, including Harbour Town Yacht Basin, advanced after years of study and debate.

State and federal regulators and an S.C. environmental group, though, have asked the U.S. Army Corps Engineers to withhold approval, arguing that -- among other concerns -- more environmentally friendly options have not been thoroughly explored.

GRANT UNSEATS FERGUSON

Political newcomer and fellow native-islander Marc Grant unseated longtime incumbent Bill Ferguson for the Hilton Head Island Ward 1 Town Council seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

ELECTION PROTESTS DISMISSED

Despite questions about their residency, Cynthia Bensch won a seat on Beaufort County Council, and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, was re-elected to the state Senate. A county board and the S.C. Election Commission both dismissed protests by their challengers, saying they failed to prove they didn't live in their districts on Election Day.

TOWN TO ARTS CENTER: DON'T COUNT ON BAILOUT

Hilton Head Island leaders put the financially troubled Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on notice last month. Mayor Drew Laughlin sent the center a letter directing it to find ways to save money and start developing a business model that does not assume significant funding from the town.

The cash-strapped arts center has been operating in the red for years and will hobble through the winter thanks to a $346,000 advance in accommodations tax money from the town.

The center hired a new marketing vice president in mid-December in the hopes of bringing new patrons and drawing bigger crowds to the Hilton Head theater.

EMAIL CRITICAL OF SUPERINTENDENT CONCEALED

The Beaufort County School District withheld an email critical of former superintendent Valerie Truesdale from a records request, but the Packet and Gazette already had obtained two copies of the email from other sources. The message, sent May 11 from Hilton Head Island High School's former athletics director, Mark Karen, to principal Amanda O'Nan accused Truesdale of dishonesty and concealing information.

VOTERS OK LAND BOND

Beaufort County voters approved issuing $25 million in bonds to raise money for Rural and Critical Lands program, but rejected a proposal for a new form of county government in Election Day referendums.

WHARF STREET HOMES SOLD

After long delays, the town of Bluffton finally found occupants for its affordable-housing project. Two homes in the Wharf Street redevelopment have sold, and another is set to close soon, according to town officials. That leaves three unsold homes in the $1.2-million affordable-housing project, which was mostly paid for with federal stimulus money.

iPADS IN THE CLASSROOM

In a lean budget year, the Beaufort County school board approved $1.8 million for putting iPads in middle and high school classes. All district middle schools, as well as ninth-grade classrooms, began using iPads this fall. The iPads were paid for with operating funds and federal money given to schools with high poverty rates.

GROUP PUSHES FOR ISLAND 'RENAISSANCE'

Educators, arts groups and business leaders rallied behind an ambitious plan for a cultural and intellectual gathering run by a newly created Hilton Head Island Institute. The institute, however, was not among the 23 groups recommended by a town panel Dec. 13 to receive grants aimed at supporting tourism.

The institute asked for $150,000 for the first year of a proposed nine- to 10-day event featuring lectures, panel discussion and workshops.

Packet and Gazette staff writer Rachel Heaton contributed.

Related content

  1. Regulators, environmental groups question Sea Pines dredging plans: Dec. 1, 2012
  2. Truesdale accepts NC job, will leave district this fall: June 24, 2012
  3. Seven school board members bid farewell to board at last meeting: Dec. 11, 2012
  4. Grant unseats Ferguson; McCann wins by 46 votes: Nov. 7, 2012
  5. Board sides with Bensch, dismisses election challenge: Nov. 19, 2012
  6. Town of Hilton Head to arts center: Don't count on bailout: Dec. 15, 2012
  7. District concealed email critical of superintendent: Aug. 4, 2012
  8. Voters OK land bond, reject government change: Nov. 7, 2012
  9. 2 of Bluffton's Wharf Street homes sold, another sale pending: Nov. 30, 2012
  10. Tax increase could bring iPads to Beaufort County schools: May 14, 2012
  11. Lecture series, airport denied Hilton Head bed-tax grants: Dec. 13, 2012