Rural South Carolina Middle School Gets Donation of Furniture

Last Updated: June 25, 2009

This article appeared in the June 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
J.V. Martin Middle School has a received a quarter-million dollars of school furniture donated by Sagus International, a school furniture supplier. Community volunteers and Sagus employees installed the furniture and painted the building’s interior.  
The rural South Carolina school shot to national attention when President Obama quoted a letter written by 8th grader Ty’Sheoma Bethea in his February address to Congress. Bethea’s letter described deplorable conditions at the school’s facility and asked the newly elected president for help.
Sagus CEO Darryl Rosser heard the address and visited the school. According to Associated Press, Rosser originally planned to outfit a new school but upon learning that a school would not be built for years decided to replace the school’s broken down and mis-sized desks, chairs, and other furniture.
The school is a mix of buildings and portable classrooms with a host of facilities problems. The Dillon 2 school district where the school is located has low property wealth, high poverty, and little to generate sales tax revenue. Those circumstances combine with a state school finance system that caps property taxes, offers little equity, and is heavily dependent on sales tax revenue (South Carolina recently “swapped” the relatively stable property tax for sales taxes as a primary source of state funding for schools). Until there is significant change in these policies, residents of Dillon have little hope for financing the new school the community so desperately needs.
Incidence of student “disrespect” in rural schools. See the graph here
Read more from the June 2009 Rural Policy Matters.