FLORENCE, S.C. – Parents of students districted to Florence County School District Four won't be paying any tuition for their children to attend a Florence One School during the next academic year.
The Florence One Schools Board of Trustees voted Thursday evening to suspend a portion of a policy requiring nonresident students wishing to attend a Florence One school for the residents of Florence School District Four for the upcoming school year only.
“On behalf of the Florence One Board of Trustees, we are happy to provide this choice opportunity to the families of Florence School District 4. By waiving any tuition for these families, we intend that their choices will now not be tempered or constrained by that prior financial consideration,” Porter Stewart, the Florence One Schools board chairman, said in a news release. "We certainly would welcome all who choose to attend our schools and trust that our approval of this request which came from our administration last week will now provide sufficient time for those families to consider their options and register within the same timelines as all new and returning families."
Elder Alexis Pipkins was the lone board member to vote in opposition to the suspension of the policy for Florence Four students. Before the vote, he said he had concerns with the lack of dialogue between Florence Four parents and the South Carolina Department of Education regarding the consolidation of Florence One and Florence Four and that the district did not have Census population numbers for Florence Four.
Richard O’Malley, superintendent of Florence 1 Schools, made the recommendation to the board. He indicated that it was important to place students and give Florence Four students an early opportunity to select from the various academic programs available currently in the Florence One Schools.
The Florence One board voted in March to set out-of-district tuition at $3,000 for first-time students, $1,500 for returning students and $750 for each additional sibling.
Molly Spearman, the South Carolina superintendent of education, announced in March that Florence One and Florence Four would consolidate effective July 1, 2022 and at that time, Timmonsville High School would be retired.
“I applaud the Florence 1 Board of Trustees and administration for making parental choice and the robust academic opportunities offered in Florence 1 schools available to the students and families of Florence School District Four,” Spearman said. “I encourage Florence Four families to consider the academic programs now available to them and remain committed to ensuring a smooth transition for those that choose to take advantage of this opportunity.”
It is not yet known which Florence One high school the Timmonsville students will attend.