Community meeting

Attendees walk out of the State Superintendent’s Community Meeting on Florence 4 Consolidation

TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – A community meeting hosted by State Superintendent Molly Spearman about consolidating Florence County School District Four with Florence 1 Schools has resulted in many attendees leaving early.

Spearman presented a slide show with data regarding Florence Four’s academic and financial performance, justifying her decision to consolidate the district. The crowd listening to her became agitated as she began to answer questions. She tried to put them in order and many left.

“This is a hostile takeover,” said Gary Burgess, spokesman for the Florence County School District Four Board of Trustees. “We’re glad Superintendent Spearman came, but she didn’t give all the facts.”

Burgess said he was proud to see the people of Timmonsville attending the meeting and leaving whenever they wanted.

“Why sit there and listen to someone who tells half-truths and lies and doesn’t give all the information?” asked Burgess.

After the crowd left, Spearman continued to speak, answering questions and calling Burgess someone “with a vengeance in mind.” She said her rationale for consolidation was that Florence Four’s student body was too small to get the funding it needed.

“When you get so small, you get less money,” Spearman said. “If you’re trying to run an entire district with a superintendent, a financial manager, and an instructor — all the people you need at the district level — it gets harder and harder to make ends meet.”

Despite the content of the presentation, Burgess said the district’s fight against consolidation is far from over.

“I don’t know if it’s all said and done. I think Goliath probably thought that when he was up against David,” Burgess said. “I believe things could change overnight.”

The Florence County School District Four Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Education in February. The consolidation is expected to take effect this summer. This would close Timmonsville High School and Johnson Middle School in addition to making Brockington Elementary School an arts-loving school.