TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. — Timmonsville Mayor Darrick Jackson says he is concerned about the potential closure of schools in the district that serves his town.
South Carolina Superintendent of Schools Molly Spearman recently held a meeting with Florence District 4 staff and a tele-town hall with more than 750 parents to discuss the possibility of consolidating the district with Florence 1 Schools at some point in the future.
Jackson said he has since been inundated with phone calls from concerned parents, teachers and students about the possibility of the schools in the town of Timmonsville closing.
“I have been fielding a lot of calls from citizens who are very concerned about how they believe this situation has been handled," Jackson said in a news release. "I have spoken with a number of people who expressed that they are angry and hurt. They feel that they have been blindsided because they say they got no warning at all from the people they elected to represent them and their interests at the South Carolina state capitol.”
Many of the parents in Timmonsville told the mayor that they were shocked when they learned that the state is considering plans to close the schools in their town, because in May of 2019, the administrator of Florence School District 4 was highlighted by several media outlets. Local media organizations featured the school district’s administrator touting student growth, the opportunities for teachers, the new partnership forged with the Auntie Karen Foundation and the launch of the school district’s STEM program.
“There were a lot of positive things happening in Florence School District 4," Jackson said. "Many of the parents and former students told me that they were most excited about the fact that they were able to keep so many of the teachers they have come to love and respect in the district.
"Teacher retention had been an issue in the past, but things had started to look up, for students and their families. Continuity in the educational system is extremely important in a rural town like Timmonsville."
Jackson declined to comment about the actions of state legislators representing the areas the school district serves nor their attempts to notify parents and other citizens about the plans.
“I believe that the consolidation of resources from an administrative standpoint makes sense," Jackson said. "Some consolidation has already taken place, for example, the closure of the Florence School District 4 office. What I vehemently oppose is the closure of the schools in Timmonsville.”
The mayor said he can’t comment on what the legislators who represent the town of Timmonsville did or did not do as far as notifying the citizens of Timmonsville about the possible closure of their schools is concerned.
State Sen. Kevin Johnson and State Rep. Robert Williams have both made public statements that they want to do what is in the best interest of the children.
Jackson says he agrees with both legislators, but he believes it is incumbent upon them both to consider all of the pros and the cons attached to a complete closure of Timmonsville’s schools.
“Closing the school’s will have a greater impact than just the inconvenience of bussing kids from one place to another," Jackson said. "This move would place an additional financial burden on parents and will impact the kids on a psychological level.
"These are variables that must be considered and discussed with greater transparency than what has been shown to the people of Timmonsville before a final decision is made.”
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