Florence School District One considering reconfiguration

Florence School District One board members met Thursday night to discuss several different plans to split schools across new attendance lines
Florence School District One board members met Thursday night to discuss several different plans to split schools across new attendance lines

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Florence School District One board members met Thursday night to discuss several different plans to split schools across new attendance lines. While most members agreed on one plan, they say there’s still much to be done.

The Board of Trustees have talked about restructuring for sometime. Plans include moving toward a true middle school model, putting six through eighth graders together, which means moving some attendance lines in the district.

Board members spent Thursday night pouring over four separate plans for reconfiguring schools in the district. Florence One Superintendent Randy Bridges said it’s time to get the students out of hundreds of mobile units currently in use in many schools.

“In fact, about 185,” explained Dr. Bridges. “Some of these scenarios may present the opportunity for some of the elementary school numbers to lessen. Then those kids can move inside a brick-and-mortar environment.”

Back in September, the Board made its first changes to the K-5 model. Thursday, much of the time was spent discussing not only the middle school reconfiguration and possible new schools, but the impact on high school attendance lines for graduating eighth graders.

Bridges said the board isn’t quite ready for that discussion yet.

“We’re dealing with the elementary and the middle.” Bridges said. “Eventually, you’ll have that conversation about high schools.”

Some board members expressed hesitation that under the favored plan, new schools like Delmae Elementary–also one of the biggest–would only house 44% of students.

“You adjust lines, you look at balances, you look at demographics, free and reduced lunch, you look at all those things as you move those lines because every time you move something on the left, it moves something on the right as well.”

Members also pointed out the changes would put some strain on transporting kids to and from school as some students would go to different schools depending on where they live.

“We really don’t know how this is gonna flesh out, with the new boundaries whatever they’re going to be, how that impacts transportation, how that impacts staffing,” Dr. Bridges said.

The board did agree on one of the four scenarios, but admit Thursday’s meeting is just a starting point.

“This board and administration is not gonna move forward without hearing the voices of our number one customer outside our students, and that’s parents.”

For now the Board of Trustees is interested in hearing from the community regarding the proposed changes. Members said they plan to have a public hearing in the near future to discuss the plan and hear from parents, teachers, and students.