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The problem is essentially that Lancaster County can approve new housing faster than the school system can raise money to build new schools.
The morning of Jan. 13, Lancaster County School District and county officials met to discuss how uncontrolled development, particularly in Indian Land, is harming the Lancaster County school system.
Reece Murphy wrote an excellent story in the Jan. 22 Carolina Gateway on the official version of what took place at that meeting. Essentially, the parties agreed to meet periodically and talk about the situation.
That evening, County Council met to consider third reading of the cluster development ordinance, a development technique expected to spur new residential development in Indian Land.
The morning meeting was not disclosed prior to the cluster development vote. Cluster development passed, 4-3, with council members Larry McCullough, Brian Carnes, Charlene McGriff and Steve Harper in favor and Larry Honeycutt, Jack Estridge and Bob Bundy opposed.
Some of the council members were unaware of the morning meeting with the school district and the harm expected to come to the school district from the cluster development ordinance. Why was this?
On Thursday, Jan. 23, County Council met for a work session to consider an adequate public facilities ordinance, a possible way to get developers to help pay for the required new schools. Essentially, they agreed to talk about it again.
We need to demand more from our government. Talking about it is not going to solve the problem. Indian Land Middle and Indian Land High schools are going to need either major expansion or additional schools in the next few years. If there is no money to build schools near the students, the students will have to be bused to schools that have capacity.
There is no magic way to solve the problem. It takes hard work, planning and a recognition that there is a time not to apply spurs to the residential development horse in the form of new tools like cluster development.
County government and the school system must work together to make Lancaster County a good place to live, work and raise a family. Neither can do without the other.
There is a prime example of what happens when the schools and the government cannot work together in our neighbor Union County, N.C. No one wants what is happening in Union County to happen here, but that’s where we are headed.
Citizens need to stand up and demand better from the county and the school district both.
Transparency and allowing the meetings to come under the Freedom of Information Act would be a good place to start.