State officials are moving to take over two struggling Timmonsville schools after the current academic year.
South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman declared a State of Emergency in Brockington Elementary School and Johnson Middle School Tuesday afternoon. Both schools are located in Florence County School District Four. Under the state Education Accountability Act, when a state of emergency is declared, the state can step in and begin operating the schools.
Brockington and Johnson are the only elementary and middle schools located in the tiny school district, which is one of those that sued the state in the 2014 Abbeville decision. Both are located on a single campus in Timmonsville that also houses Timmonsville High School
Documents released by the State Board of Education show the two schools have fluctuated between “below average” and “at risk” ratings in student achievement since 2006. District officials have not commented publicly on the state’s move.
Spearman released a statement saying the vote was unanimous among the state board. “We are taking this action to ensure the best opportunities for students and excellent support for teachers. This decision is best for both educators and students in Brockington Elementary and Johnson Middle,” she said in the message.
The Office of School Transformation (OST) blamed a lack of instructional leadership capacity at both school and district levels. Specifically, the district-level instructional leaders do not set an instructional vision for the principals, do not meet with them regularly regarding their data, do not evaluate the curricular opportunities for students, and do not seek out ways to provide more course offerings and/or more interventions to support student learning.
Board Chairman Mike Brenan said he fully supports the decision because the welfare of students is what’s most important.
“It is in the best interests of students and teachers that we change direction and help Florence Four and the community move forward,” said Brenan.
Upon the State Board’s declaring a State of Emergency, Spearman can continue technical assistance to the schools, remove the principals and assume management of the schools.
Spearman said the State Board of Education and the Florence Four Board of Trustees are currently deciding the best course of action.
“Any changes will occur with notice to the schools and community over the coming weeks,” said Spearman. “Meanwhile, the schools continue to be open for business, and we want everyone focused on providing the best education possible to these students.”
Kimberly Washington filed this report