FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – State Superintendent Molly Spearman made an appearance at the specially-called Florence County School District Four meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the district's yet-to-be-hired superintendent.
Earlier this month, the South Carolina Department of Education sent a letter to FSD4 after the district's board was unable to reach an agreement with Dr. Fannie Mason, a candidate for superintendent that was agreed upon by the SCDE and FSD4. The letter threatened to pull funding from the district if the board did not hire a superintendent that was mutually agreed-upon by the district and department.
The district never sent a response, according to Ryan Brown, Chief Communications Officer with SCDE, but instead extended an invite to Spearman to attend the district's board meeting Wednesday night.
"All three of our schools are all clear on state accreditation," said interim Superintendent Dr. Zona Jefferson before the meeting. "We have district-wide accreditation with regional advanced ed, 100 percent of our seniors graduated. Those are the things we knew we could do."
The students' success has been Jefferson's No. 1 priority at Brockington Elementary, Johnson Middle and Timmonsville High schools since the state took over the district after it declared state of emergency more than a year ago.
"That was the challenge, remove those obstacles," Jefferson said. "We were able to get over a 5-year period, $3.5 million and you talk about a school district that has a general operating fund of $6.1 million. That's a significant addition for us."
The district must properly utilize the dollars to benefit the students.
"We will not accept failure of our children," Jefferson said. "We will not allow anything to interfere with their learning. That's just a non-negotiable."
She hopes to move closer to being S.T.E.M. certified and continue the new diagnostic testing to make sure students are passing state assessments.
"We had every child graduating with an acceptance letter at a higher education institution," Jefferson said. "We have done renovations significantly to ensure the safety for our students. We purchased a new bus so we can increase our collaboration with Florence Darlington Tech. A significant number of our students graduated with college credit."
Jefferson added she wants to increase the current enrollment numbers at all three schools to 700 and above.
Brown anticipated some type of resolution and exchange of ideas about the open position to come out of the meeting. He added the SCDE hopes to continue the discussion of their superintendent options, and try to make an agreement with the district.