FLORENCE, S.C. – More than 90% of the children in four Pee Dee area school districts are classified as being in poverty.
Demographic information released by the South Carolina Department of Education for the 2020-21 school year indicates that 92.51% of the students in Dillon Four/Dillon and Lake View, 91.67% of the students in Williamsburg County, 90.88% of the students in Marion County and 90.74% of the students in Florence Four/Timmonsville are in poverty.
Schools determine whether a student is in poverty based on the student’s eligibility for free and reduced-price lunch programs. A student is eligible for free lunches if the family’s income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. A student is eligible for reduced-price lunches if the family’s income is at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four can make up to $34,060 and remain eligible for free lunches and up to $48,470 and be eligible for reduced-price lunches.
Florence Three (89.04%) and Marlboro County (85.69%) have poverty rates nearing 90%.
Dillon Four ranks as fourth-highest district in the state in the percentage of students in poverty. Overall, six of the top 14 poorest districts in South Carolina are in the Pee Dee.
Every other district in the Pee Dee has a poverty rate of between 78.89% (Darlington County) and 61.74% (Clarendon Three/East Clarendon).
York Two and Four have the lowest percentage of students in poverty in the state.
Overall, 79.08% of the students in the Pee Dee and 61.88% of the students in the state are classified as being in poverty
The data provided by the South Carolina Department of Education also includes size, racial and gender data.
Florence One Schools and Darlington County are by far and away the largest districts in the Pee Dee. Of the 47,929 students in the Pee Dee districts, 15,224, or 31.35%, go to school in Florence One and 9,222, or 19.24%, go to a Darlington County school. Together, this represents 50.59% of the students in the Pee Dee.
Florence One Schools is the 16th-largest school district in the state. Greenville County is the largest at 73,789 students. Charleston County Schools are also larger than every district in the Pee Dee at 48,329 students. Horry County (44,113 students) is also above 40,000 students.
The smallest school district in the Pee Dee is Florence Four. That district has 680 students.
The smallest school district in the state is Barnwell 19 at 554 students.
Black and white
Each school district in the Pee Dee is either majority African American or majority white.
Eight districts have African American majorities. More than three-fourths of the students in Williamsburg (90.78%), Florence Four (82.5%) and Marion County (76.84%) are African American. Over 55% of the students in Florence Three (64.57%), Dillon Four (59.91%), Marlboro (58.52%) are African American. And Florence One Schools (52.5%) and Darlington (50.11%) also have African American majorities.
Four school districts have white majorities. Over 71% of the students in Clarendon Three are white. Over 55% of the students in Florence Five/Johnsonville (64.09%), Dillon Three/Latta (57.28%) and Florence Two/Hannah-Pamplico (55.05%) are white.
No district with an African American majority has more than 35.71% (Darlington) white students. No district with a white majority has more than 36.12% (Florence Two).
Overall, 56.55% of the public school students in the Pee Dee are African American and 31.78% are white. In South Carolina, 32.61% of the students in the state are African American and 48.71% are white.
Over 9% of the students in Darlington County identify as multi-racial. Florence One Schools (6.78%), Marlboro County (6.6%) and Dillon Four (5.85%) also have more than 5% of students that have more than one race. Overall, 5.71% of the students in the Pee Dee and 5.09% of the state’s students are multi-racial.
Florence Four has the largest number of Hispanics at 7.5%. Clarendon Three has the second-largest percentage of Hispanics at 6.03%. Other districts above 5% are Dillon Four at 5.52%, Florence Three at 5.25% and Florence One Schools at 5.24%. Williamsburg (0.89%) and Marlboro (0.91%) are the only districts with Hispanic populations of less than 1%. Overall, 4.28% of the students in the Pee Dee and 11.48% of the state’s students are Hispanic.
Marlboro County and the two Dillon districts are the only districts with a Native American student population of more than 1%. Over 4.5% of students in Marlboro and 2.8% of the students in Dillon Three and 1.13% of the students in Dillon Four are Native American. The higher percentage of Native Americans in these districts is likely due to the location of the Pee Dee tribe. Overall, 0.74% of the students in the Pee Dee and 0.29% of the state’s students are Native American.
Florence One Schools has the highest percentage of Asians at 1.89%. No other district has more that Marion County’s 0.66% Asian student population. Florence Four had one student identified as Asian. Overall, 0.88% of the students in the Pee Dee and 1.69% of the students in the state are Asian.
Seven districts had at least one student identified as Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Overall, 0.06% of the students in the Pee Dee and 0.13% of the students in the Pee Dee claim Hawaiian or Pacific Islander as their race.
Each district in the Pee Dee hovers around a 50-50 male to female ratio. The district with the highest number of males is Florence Four at 52.21% of its students. All the remaining districts except one have a higher number of male students than female students. This can be partially explained by birth rate favoring boys over girls due to the lower life expectancy for men.
Florence Three with a student population that is 51.05% female is the outlier.