Florence school board holds public forum about relief school

Florence County, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A new elementary school is being built to relieve overcrowding at Delmae and Carver Elementary Schools in Florence. The new school is phase one of a three-part project that will result in a new elementary, middle and high school for Florence district One.

The school board held a public forum Thursday to discuss the school and plans with parents.

"It just makes more sense," said Michelle Metney, a second grade teacher at Royall Elementary, another elementary school included in phase one of the expansion project, along with North Vista Elementary. "If you're able to have less students in a classroom and have more space to have more classes, of course each child is going to get a better education."

School officials say the project begins with Carver and Delmae because they have the largest student populations – nearly 1,000 students attend each school. The schools use 32 portable classrooms between them to accommodate the ever-growing student population in Florence.

Assistant Superintendent Lionel Brown says many of them need to be replaced. Though the units offer more space, Brown says they do not eliminate traffic build-ups and logistical challenges the schools currently deal with.

"If they are to have an assembly for example, they would have to have at least three assemblies just to be able to encompass the entire [student] population," Brown said.

The new elementary school will be located on Hoffmeyer Road, just past the intersection of Hoffmeyer and Old Ebenezer Road. Brown says it will eliminate the use of portable classrooms at Carver, but not Delmae. Administrators say the overall project will allow for growth within the district.

Brown says the new elementary school will be paid in full upon completion.

Fifty-nine percent of Carver's students will go to the new relief school; 22 percent of Delmae's current population will go there, as well. The new school will include grades kindergarten through fourth grade. A student's address determines if he or she will attend the new school.

"There is excitement in going to a new school and opening new classrooms," said Chris Rogers, principal at Carver Elementary, who supports the project. "It brings unity with the teachers, and when the students see the teachers working together, then they start working together for that same common goal."

The relief elementary school will be the first building to be constructed as part of the Florence School District in 14 years. The board expects construction to conclude by the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Some parents are concerned the location of the new school is not far-enough removed from the roadway. The school district is currently awaiting approval of the rezoning from the federal justice department to

"It would be beneficial for my children since they're just starting out to be in new schools, and it's so desperately needed," said Metney, a parent of two children in the Florence One district.

A second public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, at Delmae Elementary. The school board encourages parents to come and voice their opinions on the expansion project.

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