The Williamsburg County School District’s Kingstree and C.E. Murray high schools will merge into one, starting with the 2021-22 school year, while Hemingway will remain as it is, according to several sources close to this situation.
A name for the new school has not been chosen, (“Kingstree” will not be the new name, according to sources) Kingstree’s buildings will serve as the new school’s campus. Distance is the reason for leaving Hemingway as it is. It’s a 19-minute drive (14.9 miles) from C.E. Murray to Kingstree. But it’s a 31-minute drive (24.5 miles) from Kingstree High to Hemingway High.
And Kingstree was selected to be the campus after schools merge because it’s the largest campus of the three Williamsburg County Schools.
According to sources, state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman conducted a Feb. 4 meeting (it’s not known whether it was virtual or in person) that included state Sen. Ronnie Sabb (District 32), state Rep. Cezar McKnight (District 101) and Williamsburg County School District Superintendent Rose Wilder. According to sources, the purpose of the meeting was to give an update on the consolidation. Although Sabb asked that the decision to consolidate be delayed, his request was unsuccessful.
It’s possible other changes will be made at the middle- and elementary-school levels in the district.
In April 2018, the South Carolina Department of Education took over management of the Williamsburg County School District.
According to an April 2018 Morning News story, the decision to take over the district was motivated by financial irregularities that Spearman said the Department of Education has been working with the district to fix since 2015. These irregularities include the district’s failure to appropriately spend money allocated by the federal government.
Other reasons, according to that April 2018 story, Spearman mentioned in the news conference included failures to develop independent learning plans for students with disabilities and test scores that showed that despite a 92 percent graduation rate, the school district lagged significantly behind other South Carolina districts in student test scores in all tested subjects.
In a February 2020 interview with the Morning News, Spearman said there were no plans to close any WCSD high school at that time.
“The district is moving in the right direction but our work is not done,” Spearman told the Morning News in February 2020.