Editorial, Local, Mauldin

Keep Mauldin United

If you’ve been down Ashmore Bridge Road or Log Shoals Road or driven through neighborhoods like Planter’s Row or Brookside or Pinebrook Forest or Greenbriar, you’ve likely seen the signs printed with the Mauldin Maverick logo. They all read, “Keep Mauldin United.”

Taft Matney

Several weeks ago, I saw a high school classmate’s post on Facebook. It was a photo of a letter from the school district announcing proposed school reassignment zones for the new Fountain Inn High School slated to open in 2021, and it said that under the proposed plan, her neighborhood would be reassigned to another school before her elementary school-aged daughter gets to high school. My heart sank.

This friend called me in tears the next day, and her homeowners’ association president reached out later that afternoon.

My position today is no different than it was when I started seeing parents post photos and comments on social media.

I wholeheartedly disagree with a plan that moves students who live within Mauldin’s city limits to a school outside of Mauldin. I say this as a Mauldin resident, as a parent of a Mauldin High School student, and as a proud alumnus of Mauldin High School.

As an alum of Mauldin High School, I say this because the school district’s plan is the equivalent of a Clemson family being told its upcoming students will have to go to Carolina (or vice versa). Trust me. As heated as that school rivalry has been, I understand it isn’t a valid reason to consider school reassignments.

As a Mauldin resident and parent, I completely understand where the furor is coming from.

Many parents, who may not have even been parents when they moved here, picked their neighborhoods and homes because of our schools and think that this is a valid reason to reexamine school district’s plan.

These parents know how good Mauldin High is. They understand how the school’s academic rigor provides opportunities for their kids to rise and have more opportunities than they had. For some students, between Advanced Placement and dual credit classes, they can graduate high school with enough credits to start college as sophomores. As parents, aren’t those kinds of doors what we all want to be able to open for our kids?

I’ve long said that Mauldin High School isn’t just Mauldin High School. It’s MAULDIN’S high school. The city and the schools within it have all worked to build a partnership. Our city fire trucks all have the Maverick logo on the side. Our school resource officers’ cars incorporate both the middle and high school’s personalities in the graphics. The resource officers in the schools are from the City of Mauldin – where these students live. We want Mauldin’s kids to have relationships with those people who protect them. It’s about Mauldin’s sense of community, and that sense of community is being upended.

One parent told me that kids in her neighborhood walk to school, but that under the new reassignment, they won’t be able to. She’s right. Not only does the new plan send students to a school that’s farther away, it also forces new teenage drivers to make their morning commute on an Interstate.

When these parents protested at public meetings, were their voices heard? Well, in a way they were. After the public meetings were conducted, a revised reassignment plan was released, and this revised plan not only retained the original neighborhoods that would be moved out of Mauldin, it added new ones.

It reminds me of the scene in “The Breakfast Club” where John Bender argues with Principal Vernon. Every time Bender speaks up, he gets extra days of detention. At one point in the exchange, Vernon looks at Bender and says, “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.”

Parents spoke up, and they got the horns. Unfortunately, the horns they wanted were the ones we display as Mauldin Mavericks, and beginning in 2021, fewer parents will have the ability to display those horns, and it’s a shame.

There are other ways to ease overcrowding in our schools, and they can be achieved by keeping Mauldin united.

— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at tmatney@mauldincitysc.com.♦

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