Director of Anderson County Schools Dr. Tim Parrott said he thinks the issue of the Claxton football field has possible solutions that don’t require the dissolution of the program.
“We have not told Claxton they can’t have a football program,” he said. “We only told them they can’t use the football field. I think there’s a lot of options out there that they could look at. Clinton City High School doesn’t practice on the football field. The high school has a football field available for some of their games maybe and South Clinton has one.
“We just didn’t want them to start a football program and then us have to move them. We may have to move some of the playground equipment onto the field when we start things and we didn’t want them to start a season and us have to tell them that they had to stop in the middle of it. This isn’t something new, though. We had conversations about this with the director of the program last fall and told him about the new school. We talked to him about it.”
Parrott said the timeline has been moved up because of the “use it or lose it” nature of the money the schools received from the federal government.
“All of this has come to the forefront because we have all this money and only two years to spend it, and if we don’t spend it — we lose it. It allows us to spend $6-8 million to start that process. We think it’ll be $12-14 million total, so we’re really saving taxpayers about $8 million by doing this in the timeline we’re trying to do it in. Claxton needs a new school — and after we’re done, there will be plenty of space there. They may have room to put a new football field. I just think for the time being, they need to find another place.”
Parrott reiterated, though, that sports are important to him, and he understands their importance to the community.
“I believe in sports,” he said. “They say I don’t, but I do. I think sports and education have to coexist, though. We still plan on having basketball this fall. Our elementary schools all have basketball programs. The schools are hopefully going to have extra help this year to do some track and maybe soccer and wrestling. We’ve done a lot to help our community not just with the football program.”
Parrott said that the Board of Education plans to have community meetings sometime in September to seek feedback on the new school.
“We’re going to see what the community wants in the new school and what kind of facility they want,” he said. “We’re going to get community input on it. We’re hoping it becomes a regional STEM school, though, where people from all over Anderson County can come to that school and learn.”