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State takes over another school district

Staff Report //May 10, 2018//

State takes over another school district

Staff Report //May 10, 2018//

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The S.C. Department of Education has taken over a second state school district in a month.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman has assumed direct management of Florence County School District Four because of “chronic financial instability,” the Education Department said in a news release.

“Over the past 10 years, Florence Four has lost 32% of its student population while still paying millions in administrative salaries and related costs,” Spearman said. “Now, with just over 600 students among its three schools, the district’s finances are in dire shape and require immediate action.”

Last month, the department took over management of the Williamsburg County School District, citing financial mismanagement and poor student performance.

State law allows the state superintendent to assume management of a district if its accreditation status is on probation or denied, if a majority of schools in the district fail to show improvement, if the district is classified as a high financial risk, or if financial mismanagement results in a deficit.

“For each of the past three years, Florence Four has received the highest financial risk rating and once again was unable to submit a timely audit because of the state of its financial records,” Spearman said. “I am declaring a state of emergency in the district and will work quickly and diligently to find a sustainable solution to provide the students in Timmonsville with the opportunities they need and deserve for years to come.”

The Education Department has managed two of the three schools in the district, Brockington Elementary School and Johnson Middle Schoolfor the past two school years. Timmonsville High School and the management and operation of the district office have been overseen by the local school board and a district superintendent.

Spearman will seek contracts with surrounding school districts and private providers to take over district services, the department said.

Last year, the Education Department took over Allendale County schools, among the 36 districts that made up South Carolina’s “Corridor of Shame,” a stretch of rural, substandard schools along Interstate 95.