Herald-Advocate News

School board approves reconfiguration

The Marlboro County Board of Education approved an alternative reconfiguration plan for the 2017-18 school year during a special called meeting on Wednesday.
The district superintendent, Dr. Helena Tillar, recommended the plan based on concerns of citizens and board members, calling it “a compromise.” 
A previously recommended plan met with opposition and was approved, then later rescinded, by the board.
The new plan will keep Blenheim preK-5 students at the Blenheim school, whereas the previous plan had moved them to Clio.
It will move grades 7-8 from Clio to Blenheim, and also the entire School of Discovery (grades 6-8) to Blenheim. 
Grades 7-8 from Blenheim and Bennettsville already attend there, so the changes will make the Blenheim school house Blenheim’s preK-5, the School of Discovery, and grades 7-8 from Blenheim, Bennettsville and Clio. 
The total student population will be 548.
The School of Discovery, a magnet school for the arts whose charter makes it a “school-within-a-school,” will not be separated as much as it would have been under the original reconfiguration plan. 
It would have occupied its own floor in the original plan, but in the new plan, the preK-5 students will be downstairs while the School of Discovery will share the upstairs with the other 7-8th graders.
The other part of the new reconfiguration plan involves Clio Elementary/Middle School. It will move sixth grade students from Blenheim and Bennettsville Intermediate to Clio. Clio’s preK-6 students will remain at the school. 
This will make the total student population at Clio around 300.
The new plan does not address Bennettsville Intermediate School grades 3-5. In a separate action, the board voted to leave those students at BIS in the new year following a report and discussion about a mold/air quality study that was conducted at the school. (See a separate story about this in today’s edition.)
Bennettsville Primary School, McColl and Wallace are not affected by the reconfigurations.
Barbara Ohanesian made the motion to approve the reconfiguration plan, with a second from Danny Driggers. The vote was 5-2. In favor were Ohanesian, Driggers, Jackie Branch, Macky Norton and Lucy Parsons. Opposed were Michael Coachman and Nan Fleming. Janice Bright and Artemus Woods were not present.
Fleming said her concern is with older children sharing the same corridor with preK children in Clio.
Ohanesian then made a second motion, to move AMIKids Infinity, the district’s alternative school program, to the newer portion of the School of Discovery building. It currently occupies part of the former Bennettsville Elementary School building on North Cook Street. 
This change had also been part of the original reconfiguration recommendations. Driggers seconded the motion, and it passed 5-0 with Coachman and Fleming abstaining.
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