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Florence One Schools financing proposal called ‘great opportunity’

January 10, 2019
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Superintendent Richard O'Malley discusses what the financing proposal would do for the school district.

FLORENCE, S.C. – At a forum Tuesday, members of the Students First organization shared their vision for what the $198 million Florence One Schools proposal could do for the community and encouraged public participation in the organization.

Students First invited community members to Central United Methodist Church to help connect them with the organization’s efforts to get the financing proposal passed in a referendum.

Steering Committee Chairman Robert LeMaster called the proposal an investment in the community that would encourage economic growth in Florence.

“There’s a lot of things I think we do that we can improve on,” LeMaster said. “So, that’s why I’m taking time out of my schedule with this initiative because I think it’s worth our time and energy.”

LeMaster said there are some issues in the district that have not been addressed, such as inequalities within the district and student and staff needs. He also said if the district can get the building needs addressed, then other needs can start to be met within the district.

“I think this is a great opportunity to change the direction of Florence,” LeMaster said.

Multiple Florence One students who are a part of the Students First organization shared their reason for supporting the proposal.

South Florence High School senior Judah Gray said he got involved in the organization because he has seen the need for better athletic facilities that are on the schools’ premises.

Gray has taken part in the marching band and football team and has had to change in the buses outside Memorial Stadium when playing West Florence High and Wilson High schools as the away team.

During the forum, Superintendent Richard O’Malley outlined what the proposal would do for Florence One Schools and discussed the district’s vision.

O’Malley said the proposal is not all about building new buildings, but providing equal opportunities for education for all students and increasing school security to protect the children. He said having new buildings would also provide a better learning environment in the district.

“I didn’t come here to build buildings,” O’Malley said. “I came here to build an educational system and really provide an equal education for all kids.”

If the proposal is passed during the Feb. 26 vote, all three high schools will receive renovations that will add classrooms, increase security and give each school a new gym. Each high school will also get an athletic facility with a 5,000-seat capacity.

There will be four new schools built: Southside Middle School, Williams Middle School, Savannah Grove Elementary School and a combined Timrod Elementary and Wallace Gregg Elementary school.

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