Clarendon Schools Prepare for Consolidation
by Jake McElveen | September 14, 2019 3:00 pm
Last Updated: September 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm
The Clarendon School District 1 Board of Trustees held a community forum Sept 3 to
receive questions from students, parents and community members concerning the looming idea of consolidation between Clarendon districts 1 and 3.
Several students took the stand to ask questions about the schools curriculum and operations. Confident answers rang back from Junious, as well as Superintendent Barbara Champagne.
Eventually, Summerton Resident Willie Briggs broached the topic of consolidation, which would mean districts 1 and 3 sharing a board, as well as a district office. This would not mean students having to go attend class at a different campus, or teachers having to teach at a different campus. This would, however, mean less taxes for both schools.
“How was it decided that Clarendon 1 and Clarendon 3 will consolidate and not Clarendon 2?” said Briggs.
Senator Kevin L. Johnson replied on what consolidation will look like in the near future.
“First, let me clear up the misconception: No districts are required to consolidate at this point,” he said. “However, the Bill propose Tier 4 Counties can consolidate and have access to more funding from the state.”
Clarendon is one of seven small counties in the state to be offered the opportunity of consolidation. Furthermore, only districts 1 and 3 were given the opportunity to consolidate.
The reason for this is the number of students they have per school. According to Johnson, the only schools consolidation applies to are those that have a student body of 1,500 students or less, and District 2 does not fall into this category.
“Consolidation is coming,” Johnson said. “Next year or maybe the year after, consolidation will be mandated. This will allow for more course offerings and shared services.”
“Senate Bill 203 will prove over $5 million dollars to those district participating,” Johnson added. “These funds will assist Clarendon One with its bonds and debt and while assisting Clarendon Three with building a new gymnasium. In all of this, We must remember that ‘Education is Key.’ The big industries tend to move in the larger more influential areas of South Carolina such as Rock Hill and Greenville. We want to draw them to the rural areas as well. Consolidation is about what’s best for our young people, and the quality of a child’s education should never be determined by their zip code.”
The forum continued to address several topics concerning changes in the students lives before, during and after consolidation.
Johnson, however, made it clear that consolidation was something that would only affect administration, and that the schools would remain completely the same.
“The most important thing as a community is to make sure you get there correct information concerning consolidation by attending these public forums,” Board Secretary John Bonaparte added.
School districts 1 and 3 have submitted their plans for consolidation, but changes may not be seen for several years. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the district offices.