Tensions build at Berkeley school board meeting during new school debate

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) - Tensions ran high at Tuesday night's Berkeley County School Board meeting all because a new school in Hanahan is no closer to being built.

Dozens showed up at the meeting, including the entire Hanahan City Council, to express their concerns. They were all demanding the school board make good on a promise to build a new school.

But in the end, it was one citizen who brought both the school board and city council members to their feet in the name of progress.

When Hanahan's Bill Healy took the podium, he didn't come with a prepared speech. Instead he spoke from the heart.

"Now I am going to challenge you. Don't look at leaders of the school board or council. If you are willing to come together over the next two weeks and work out your differences and get this going, I would ask the board to stand and the council to come forward," he said. "Are you will to do that? Are you willing?"

The tensions between the school board and city council stem from the $198 million referendum passed in 2012. More than 60 percent of voter supported it because some of that money was supposed to be used to build a new Hanahan elementary school.

That has yet to happen.

"The only thing we wanted tonight was to say we demand that you live up to your promise. Our community voted for a new school in the Tanner Plantation/Foster Creek area based on the referendum," said Hanahan Mayor Minnie Newman-Blackwell.

There was nothing on Tuesday night's agenda in regards to the referendum of the construction of a new school. But Newman-Blackwell and the rest of the council canceled their meeting in order to speak during the public comment period at the school board meeting.

Newman-Blackwell says that's because her request to have the matter put on the agenda was denied.

"We all want the same thing. Let's focus on the children," she said.

But Tuesday night all eyes were on Healy and his speech.

He's now planning on bringing both sides together and pushing aside the politics to focus on the needed new school.

There is no word yet on where that meeting will be held, but if both parties keep their promise to Healy's challenge, it should be within the next two weeks.