Student panel recommends improvements to Florence One schools

February 9, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – The upcoming $198 million bond referendum dominated the early discussion of Thursday’s caucus meeting of the Florence One Schools Board of Trustees.

First, the board received a presentation from the Student Facilities Advisory Committee regarding improvements that the committee recommended that have been made at each of the three high schools in the district. The three high schools are South Florence, West Florence, and Wilson High Schools. The improvements made include replacing tile floors in classrooms, new gym floors, and additional metal detectors and other security improvements.

The committee presented ideas for improvements to be made to Savannah Grove, McLaurin, Greenwood, and Briggs elementary schools and Snead and Williams middle schools.

The improvements recommended at Savannah Grove include a perimeter fence at the front of the school, using an adjacent lot to ease faculty parking concerns, and improving the inefficient cafeteria design.

The recommended improvements at McLaurin include work on the mobile classrooms, repair and replacement of SMART boards, and improvements to the cafeteria.

Greenwood’s recommended improvements included improving the lunch space, increasing the available storage space, and work on the mobile classrooms.

At Briggs, the students recommended work on the bathrooms and work on the mobiles.

The committee recommended improvements to the parking lot and work on the roof leaks in the school’s gym.

At Williams, the student committee recommended work on the mobile classrooms and related flooding and improvements to the car line and bathroom.

The student committee. led by West Florence teacher Michelle Cummings, impressed the members of the board with its presentation.

The Rev. E.J. McIver, a board member, particularly praised the presentation of South Florence 11th-grader Dylan Gandy.

When asked, Superintendent Richard O’Malley said he believed 100 percent of the improvements could be made if the bond issue proposed in a Feb. 26 referendum is passed by voters. He asaid that by building new middle schools, the sixth grades would be able to move to those locations, eliminating the need for the mobile classrooms in Florence One.

Later, the board also heard from Doug Nunnally, director of school security and safety, regarding security for the referendum.

Nunnally said that the referendum would be different from a typical election because 15 schools would be serving as polling places while students were in class. He added that he was working with David Alford, executive director of the Florence County Election Commission, the Florence Police Department, and the Florence County Sheriff’s Office to assure that voters can make their voices heard while observing board policy and state laws regarding school safety and election access.

McIver suggested that Nunnally ask Alford to place signs at precincts that have been changed for the election so that those trying to vote have a sign directing them to their correct polling places. He specifically recommended signs at the DHEC Building and Thelma Brown Elementary School.

Money raised in the proposed bond issue would be used to construct a new Southside Middle School, a new Williams Middle School, a new Savannah Grove Elementary School, a new elementary school that would consolidate Timrod and Wallace Gregg Elementary Schools, and security upgrades, additions, renovations, and athletic upgrades at each of the three high schools in Florence One Schools.