Timmonsville mayor expresses concern over potential consolidation of Florence School District 4

Updated: Sep. 22, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman recently held a virtual town hall with staff, parents and the community to discuss the future of Florence School District 4 in Timmonsville.

During the discussion, one of the topics brought up by Spearman was a potential consolidation of Florence School District 4 and Florence School District 1.

For Timmonsville Mayor Darrick Jackson, the consolidation isn’t what is concerning.

“I have no problem with the consolidation, I have grave concern over the potential closure of the school in Timmonsville," said Jackson.

According to the South Carolina Department of Education spokesperson, a timeline hasn’t been discussed regarding the consolidation of Florence 1 and Florence 4 schools. Discussions are still being held to decide whether the consolidation would mean closing Florence 4 schools or whether Florence 1 would take over the district’s facilities. No decisions have been made.

The state has operated Florence 4 for the last two years after state Superintendent Molly Spearman declared a state of emergency for the district due to chronic financial instability.

In 2019, the school district looked to be moving in the right direction after the state reported substantial progress one year after taking over.

Jackson said he’s received many phone calls from concerned parents looking for answers.

He believes closing the schools and forcing children to commute to Florence will negatively impact students and their parents.

“It would be a burden on the parents to have to go back and forth for football, science club, or whatever, it would be a burden, a financial burden on the parents," said Jackson.

Jackson believes a potential school closure could have an impact on the entire town of Timmonsville.

“We have to think about the economic portion of it for the town of Timmonsville as a community because we understand the tax base and what it would do to this community," said Jackson.

Following the town hall, Florence 4 parents were surveyed and 55% of them agreed with a potential consolidation. But 25% of parents surveying were unsure, according to the South Carolina Department of Education.

Jackson said he agrees with the idea of consolidation, but it is vital the schools remain in Timmonsville.

The South Carolina Department of Education held a discussion with Timmonsville High School students this afternoon and will hold another community meeting next week.

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