Florence One continues discussion about grade reconfiguration

Florence One continues discussion about grade reconfiguration

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A school board meeting for Florence School District One was held Wednesday night to talk about grade reconfiguration.

It's a proposal that has been on the table since September. Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges is spearheading the plan. The district has hired a consultant to help build school boundary maps and run data to present to school board members.

"This is not a re-zoning or re-districting plan and a lot of people have called it that, and its not that, that's a different process. This is really trying to align these grades in all of our schools," Bridges said. Currently in Florence One all elementary schools are either K through fourth, fifth, or sixth grades and the new grade reconfiguration will change that structure.

Bridges stated, "I think anytime you have the possibility of moving children to a different school, parents are concerned about that, and I'm a parent, so I've lived through some of those as well, and we've tried to minimize that as much as we can. But you can't go to a grade reconfiguration without moving some children."

The new grade configuration proposal is to change the 13 elementary schools to grade K through five and the four middle schools will become grades six through eight.

The last school board meeting was open to the public to hear from parents and the community.

"As I said at the last board meeting this is not unfounded, it's not new. It would be something new to Florence, but school districts across the state and across the country pretty much use the sixth through eighth middle school model and we can't get to that model until we do something with the elementary schools," said Randy Bridges.

Bridges added, he believes the new plan will help streamline uniformity, help new building construction plans in Florence, and reduce mobile units.

WMBF News talked with Jill Russell, a literacy teacher at Delmae Heights Elementary and school parent. She said,

"I think it's important that we move forward, so I think it's great that Dr. Bridges is spearheading this and move forward with this change," said Jill Russell.

The change could directly impact Russell with 16 years experience at Delmae Heights Elementary and two children in Florence One.

"It would affect my fifth grade student because if the lines are drawn where he does not attend the same school he is currently at, it would be not only the change he made this year, but an additional change next year," Russell said.

Bridges said the district's goal is to be transparent with the plans.

"When we get to the point where we can say to the public, particularly our parents take a look at this one map and give us some feedback on that, and that's what we are trying to get to," Bridges said.

Russell agrees.

"Helping parents to understand where the lines will be so they can make informed decisions for their family as far as what school their child will be attending, what middle school, what high school so they can look to the future if there are changes," Russell said.

Once there is one set plan approved by the school board and administrative staff, Bridges said the board will get the school boundary map out to the parents for feedback. There will be a January meeting after winter break.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.