When one thinks about it hard enough, one might think of the recent history of Warren County School District as a microcosm of America during its most fractious and divisive period.
When the founding fathers created a union of individual states, they developed an innovative system of checks and balances to mollify the suspicions of a strong - read that supreme - central government held by the various formerly independent colonies.
When the Warren County School District was formed a half-century ago from the various independent local districts, the formulators, with the advice of the state Department of Education, came up with a system of attendance areas roughly related to the county's high schools. Each of the attendance areas would be equally represented on a nine-member board.
Thus, those members could look after their own attendance areas while at the same time acting for the benefit of the whole.
Forget John C. Calhoun's defense of slavery for a moment and consider his concept of "concurrent majority" and his fear of majoritarianism as well as his defense of the rights of individual states to manage their own affairs. Indeed, some of the South Carolinian's political theories have carried through to this century and have been adopted by liberal-leaning theorists for the protection of minority rights.
No one will argue against the notion that any popularly elected representative in government, be it Congress or the Warren County School Board, has as their first priority the wishes of his or her constituency, though there are times when circumstances and issues call upon them to wrestle with decisions that test that priority.
In the case of the United States of America, tensions over the slavery issue and continued suspicion that the federal government was going too far in usurping the rights of the individual states led, of course, to the cathartic blood-bath we know as the Civil War. In 2012 we still sometimes squabble over the Constitution's Supremacy Clause.
Nothing so dramatic as violence has befallen this school district, and we're confident that no matter how divided this district may be on any issue, solutions will be found in a civil and reasonable manner.
Still, this district suffers periodic schisms that might be called symptomatic of the inherent difficulties in the system. One might consider the charter school initiative in the northern attendance area a secessionist effort of sorts and the resulting contentious discourse resembling former Superintendent Dr. Robert Terrill's prediction of a civil war. To continue the analogy, one might consider current Superientendent Brandon Hufnagel the Henry Clay to Terrill's Calhoun.
At the end of the examination, one wonders what the Warren County School District and its board would look like and act like if there were only one high school, located somewhere in the center of the county, not in any definable town, and the board members were elected at large.
While there are certainly appealing images to be found, not the least of which is a certain economy of resources and the opportunity to expand academic programs, there are also valuable things that would be lost. Among those is a sense of a school's link to a local community's identity, something you can't put a price tag on.
And so, the Warren County School District will continue to navigate the rocky road of republican democracy, doing the best it can to satisfy some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.