AP NEWS

Marion County to close Creek Bridge High School, Britton’s Neck Elementary

February 27, 2019

MARION, S.C. – Creek Bridge High School will close at the end of this school year as part of the Marion County School District’s reconfiguration plan.

The school’s 144 students will be rezoned to Mullins High School.

Britton’s Neck Elementary School, which has been closed since Hurricane Florence hit the area in September, will not reopen. The Creek Bridge facility will be the new home of an elementary/middle school. Creek Bridge Elementary Middle School will focus on a STEM curriculum.

The district is addressing challenges in regard to enrollment trends, academic and enrichment opportunities for students, healthy and safe environments and financial efficiency.

The population of Marion County declined by 5.4 percent between 2010-17, according to a news release. District enrollment has followed a similar trend.

“When examining the data, while the trend of declining enrollment began prior to consolidation, the district enrollment has continued to decline an average of 2 percent per year since 2014,” Superintendent Dr. Kandace Bethea said in the news release.

The impact of the declining enrollment has been a topic of conversation for the past several years, as both funding and educational opportunities are tied to enrollment.

The first component of the reconfiguration plan has Creek Bridge students rezoned to Mullins High School.

Mullins High School currently has 401 students. By adding the Creek Bridge grades 9-12 students, the enrollment would be around 545 students. Marion High enrollment will remain at approximately 682.

“With the current structure and high school enrollments, it is fiscally a challenge to offer all three high schools the same educational and athletic opportunities,” Bethea said. “By combining Creek Bridge and Mullins high schools, the district closes opportunity gaps in core content courses, elective courses and extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs.”

District officials said the Britton’s Neck facility, built in 1954, is located on very low land, causing a number of problems, including flooding and other infrastructure concerns.

“As the district explores this long term solution in the best interest of students, the proposal is to make Creek Bridge Elementary Middle School a school of choice by creating a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) centered curriculum,” the news release said. “With STEM fields becoming more prominent in the workforce, focusing on these areas and sparking an interest in STEM at an early age will help prepare students to be productive in a changing global society.”

District officials said two parent and community forums were held at Creek Bridge High School to discuss the reconfiguration plan components with parents and community members. The superintendent is also meeting with staff from all three schools as well as with students.

The Marion County Board of Education approved Phase 1 of the reconfiguration plan.

A Task Force, comprised of diverse of stakeholders, was previously put in place, and this group is charged with the task of continuing to examine the various aspects related to the reconfiguration and provide recommendations for a smooth transition.

The reconfiguration plan will go in to effect beginning with the 2019-20 school term.