AP NEWS

Student asks people to ‘vote yes’ for Florence One referendum

February 20, 2019
Students First chairman Robert LeMaster speaks to a group of people Monday evening at a community information meeting at an education referendum.

FLORENCE, S.C. – West Florence High School senior Ryann Elder said Monday evening that the future of Florence One Schools and the welfare of the students are in the hands of the people who attended a community information meeting hosted by Students First.

“Please don’t turn your back on us,” Elder told the voters.

The Students First organization hosted the meeting at Palmetto Street Church of God to share with voters the Florence One Schools vision, plus the community and economic impacts that would be made by passing an education referendum on Feb. 26.

Elder was the student representative who spoke at Monday’s meeting. She said all students deserve the opportunity to receive and education and school facility and environment that is safe, clean and secure.

West Florence High School currently has 69 entrances, and to change classes, almost every student is expected to exit the building, she said.

“The biggest issue is the safety. There is no way the school can be locked down,” Elder said. “At any given time at West Florence, there are 660 students in mobile classrooms. This is a huge safety risk.”

If the referendum passes, classes will be added to the front of the building and will replace the mobile classrooms, which will probably put the district out of the mobile business, Elder said.

Another issue at the school is the restrooms. Most of them are outside.

“Students have to exit the building or mobile classrooms to use the restroom,” Elder said. “This is unsafe, because there’s no way to control who’s in the bathroom. Any outsider at any time can walk on campus and enter the restrooms or classrooms.”

Along with the safety issue of the outdoor restrooms are sanitation and health issues. Elder said during freezing temperatures, the water freezes in the sinks and toilets. The restrooms are freezing in the winter and hot in the spring, she said.

While the rest of the Florence community has been experiencing positive changes such as modern, up-to-date businesses, hotels, restaurants, government and college facilities, the public schools have not, Elder said. She challenges Florence voters to take time to visit Florence One Schools and see the dire need for the majority of the facilities.

“We are now asking our entire community to step up to the plate and invest in our education,” Elder said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, grandparent, nonparent, young or old, the fact is everybody in our community will be impacted by the students of today in one way or another.”

According to information distributed at the Students First meeting, the Florence One Schools referendum would provide for new school buildings, security improvements, classroom additions, facility repairs and athletic facilities.

“The future for our schools and the welfare of our students are in your hands,” Elder said. “Don’t let us down. Vote yes on Feb. 26.”