FLORENCE COUNTY S.C. (WBTW) — Ongoing discussions over the consolidation of Timmonsville High School into Florence 1 Schools and concerns about violence in that district’s schools are on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Florence 4 Schools board of trustees meeting.
Florence 4 has faced a shrinking student population and financial issues in recent years. The state took control of the district about two years ago. After the consolidation, the plan is to use the current Timmonsville High School for the district’s two elementary and middle schools.
Dr. Gary Burgess Sr., a spokesman for the Florence 4 Schools board, said the district has been fighting the consolidation, which is scheduled to take place on July 1, for far too long.
“They are treating our students, they are treating the citizens of Timmonsville, Florence 4, like second-class citizens, like property, like cattle, and that is unacceptable,” he said.
Based on his years of experience in education, Burgess said consolidation is not something that can or should be rushed.
“I’ve been a superintendent, principal of a school, assistant superintendent,’’ he said. “I’ve been in education for over 30 years, and any time we planned to close a school that takes years of planning.”
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the board is expected to hear from an attorney to talk about filing complaints with the South Carolina Department of Education and Superintendent Molly Spearman, with the hope of negotiating a solution.
As for the reported violence in Florence 1 Schools, Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley thinks it’s a nationwide issue.
“You can see in all of our secondary schools, in this particular case of much more did not have the full six to eighth grade, we had a total of 134 fights between that August and that November,” he said. “If you scroll up to where we are today, we started school on Aug. 2 to Nov. 2, same amount of days. But again, we started earlier, we have almost double the amount of fights 225.
The violence in Florence 1 is concerning to the Florence 4 board.
“It appears that Florence 1 Schools, in particular, the middle school and the high school areas, are out of control, and they need to work on getting that together.,” Burgess said. “Superintendent Spearman does not need to add another element, another variable in that situation. I’m just concerned about even the students in Florence 1.”
The meeting will be streamed on Burgess’ Facebook page starting at 7 p.m.