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Lan-Yair Mixed use development causes debate


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Developer's request sparks debate

By Baker Maultsby | Staff Writer - The Herald-Journal

Spartanburg County School District 7 officials say it's simply good business, an idea that will bring money into all its schools while enhancing quality of life in the city of Spartanburg.

Critics believe the proposal will further divide District 7 students along class lines and serve as a slap in the face to one of the district's own schools.

At issue is a request by a developer to redraw school attendance lines so that future development on the Lan Yair Country Club property is within the boundaries for Jesse Boyd Elementary School. The property is zoned for Houston Elementary School.

On the advice of district administrators, a board subcommittee approved the change last month after it was brought to the district by developer Dennis Avery, a part owner of Dayton Street LLC.

Citing safety and convenience, Avery asked the board to rezone the property.

The board will discuss the request at its meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. tonight at the Charles H. Humphries Administration Building.

Because the property has only a few residences now, the change would affect no current students. Meanwhile, district administrators say Jesse Boyd has room to accommodate new students.

But the issue has generated controversy.

Because Boyd has been rated higher than Houston by the state Education Oversight Committee and serves, in general, a wealthier student population, some are convinced that the district is complicit in playing one of its schools against another.

Houston principal Lynda Truluck declined to comment, but two of her staff members have written letters of the Herald-Journal editorial page blasting the board subcommittee's decision.

District officials plan to meet with parents and teachers at the school to explain their rationale. Houston PTO president Kim Ellis said she plans to keep an open mind going into the meeting but, upon hearing about the plan, found it to be "kind of a put down."

"I'm somewhat surprised," said District 7 board chairman David Cecil. "I would say, first of all, that nobody with the district made comparisons (between Boyd and Houston). We made no judgments that one school is better than the other.

"This was just a request made by the developer."

Cecil said the district is working to accommodate development for the best interests of both the city of Spartanburg, which hopes to annex the Lan Yair property, and the school district.

Glenn Stiegman, assistant superintendent for business services, said District 7 must take a pro-business stance in order to boost its tax base.

"We think the development could mean 1 million spread among all the children in the district. That benefits kids at Houston, McCracken, the high school, Boyd

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