State superintendent discusses future of Florence School District 4 with Timmonsville residents

S.C. Superintendent hosts virtual meeting on the future of Florence School District 4

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (WMBF) - For the second time, State Superintendent Molly Spearman held a virtual meeting with community residents concerning the future of Florence School District Four.

During the last meeting, Spearman discussed the possibility of consolidating Florence Four with Florence School District One. Consolidation was the main topic of Wednesday’s meeting, along with the potential closure of Timmonsville High School.

“We’ve been kicking this can down the road because leaders were scared to talk about it," said Spearman. "I did not run for this office to kick cans down the road. I ran to do what I can while I’m in office to make the system better for students in South Carolina.”

Despite the progress Florence Four has made in recent years, Spearman said the district is still struggling to make ends meet.

She said school funding is based on the number of students in the district. Florence Four has only 663 total students, making it one of the smallest districts in the state.

The state has reduced the district’s administrative staff, laid off teachers, and cut programs. And still, district is nowhere near its fund balance.

While the entire district would be consolidated into Florence One, there won’t be changes to the elementary or middle school.

Timmonsville High School, however, is unsustainable, according to Spearman.

“It’s almost impossible to keep it going with the size and the taxes that are being paid now, and we’ve done everything possible over the last two years to be prudent and honest with you. The state has been propping it up," said Spearman.

Spearman said she’s been asked about the possibility of Florence One taking over the high school.

“Is it financially feasible for Florence One to keep a high school open with only 160 or 200 students in it when they have the other high schools?" said Spearman.

Spearman added while she understands the concerns parents have over the possible closure, she wants Timmonsville High School students to have the same opportunities as students in other districts.

“The reality is students need to find their personal pathway and start gaining those skills they get in high school, and school districts need to be able to offer that," said Spearman.

Spearman noted a decision would be made regarding Florence Four’s future by December or early January.

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