TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. – At least two residents of the Florence School District Four community are frustrated by what they say is a lack of action and interaction at a consolidation committee meeting held Tuesday evening.
Lawrence Becote said in an email that he didn’t understand the purpose of the meeting held at the Brockington Elementary School library Tuesday.
“I am still trying to understand why the transition team needed us there,” Becote said. “The public was invited to make comments, and ask questions, but there was not one question that was asked by those of us who attended the meeting in public or online that were addressed. There was no interaction. We just basically sat and listened as the committee members talked. Some of us are beginning to wonder just what kind of a horse and pony show these people are trying to put on here.”
At the beginning of the meeting, the members of the public attending the meeting were offered the opportunity to make comments but were told that the committee could not answer any questions posed. This is a common practice of several local governments including Florence One Schools and the Florence County Council. Their policies, and possibly the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, prevent any public body from discussing items not on their agendas.
Becote also questioned why South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, who ordered the district to consolidate with Florence One Schools, did not attend the meeting.
“And by the way, where was Molly Spearman?” he asked. “She should have been at the meeting with bells on, after all this is her party isn’t it?”
Angela James said she felt the meeting made it seem like the details of the consolidation of Florence Four into Florence One Schools had already been decided.
“It just feels like everything pertaining to this merging of our schools into Florence School District One is a done deal,” James said. Her comments were in the same email with Becote’s. “They know exactly what they want to do, they just don’t want us to know. There is a lot that is not right here, like the fact that there is not one parent sitting on that transition team.”
There has been no public indication that the details have been decided. Dr. Gloria Bracey, Florence Four parent liaison, is one of the members of the consolidation committee.
Becote said the Timmonsville community has a right to know the details, if they have been decided, of the consolidation plan.
The email containing the comments of Becote and James also notes that there were audio difficulties for some people attending the meeting virtually.