TIMMONVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Parents of students in Florence school district four are calling for the resignation of the superintendent, citing her as the primary cause of the district's financial dilemma.
More than 200 parents attended Tuesday night's Timmonsville school board meeting to voice their grievances with the school board and superintendent. Many feel Dr. Bertha McCants should no longer serve as superintendent.
"The only people in this room that are out of order, that have been out of for the last four years, are the members of this school board," charged parent Robbie Lesesne. The audience stood up and applauded after he called for the school board to vote to remove Dr. McCants from her position in an executive session without her vote.
"We need to know what side you're on."
The fury stems from the district's announcement to eliminate 19 jobs because of what officials say is a decrease in student enrollment, effective March 14.
Timmonsville school officials say more than 274 students have left the district this school year. District funding from the state is determined by the number of students enrolled in the district. The transfers have cost the school nearly $400,000 in lost funding.
"The bad outweighs the good," parent Jimmy Hampton said. He acknowledges Dr. McCants is not the sole cause of the district's financial dilemma. He feels, however, her resignation is the first step in consolidating the school district with Florence district one.
"If you've got a good head and a good leader, everybody else will follow," he suggests.
Several parents feel the school district would save school funds, allow the 19 staff members to keep their jobs and provide an overall higher-quality education for their children.
The board, however, does not agree.
"If they stop and think about it, it's not a cure all," Board Chairman Rose Becot argued. "We've still got our debts, we're still going to need the teachers...we still can't offer our students what we've had to cut."
Becot and the other board members made a motion at Tuesday's meeting to remedy the number of transfer students outside of the school district by amending their transfer policy. They want to prevent students from leaving district four to attend others in the county so state funding remains within their district.
"What board is going to tell a parents that they can't move their child if they don't think that their child is getting the education that he or she deserves?" questioned Natisha Ashe.
"If I want to move my kids they'll be gone in the morning!"
Becot said the new transfer policy should include a grandfather clause that allows district four students who are currently studying in another district to continue schooling there. It will also require parents to provide a "legitimate" reason to transfer elsewhere, such as a medical condition or a course a student wishes to take that is not offered in the district.
The next school board meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, March 15 at 7 p.m.