BLENHEIM, SC (WBTW) – Many parents in Marlboro County are upset over a plan to send students as young as third grade across the county to Marlboro County High School. Those parents were out in force Wednesday night to let district leaders know they’re concerned.

Last week the Marlboro County school board approved a reconfiguration of some grades during a special called meeting.

Those new changes include:

  • Moving Blenheim students in grades Pre-K through 5th grade to Clio Elementary/Middle School
  • Moving 6th-8th graders in Clio and students at the School of Discovery to Blenheim Elementary/Middle School
  • Moving 3rd-5th graders from Bennettsville Intermediate School to Marlboro County High School

“What we wanna make sure is that we’re maximizing our facilities that our in fair to good shape,” said Superintendent Dr. Helena Tillar.

Dr. Tillar took questions from parents who said they weren’t so sure about sending their young students to a high school setting.

“We’ve taken a look at every option possible based on recommendations that we’ve received from advanceED, our accreditation team, as well as the team that came from the state level to look at our facilities,” Tillar explained.

Tillar said the aging buildings in the school district–some 60 to nearly 100 years old–have recurring problems with mold and water damage and present a health risk to students and staff.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re placing every child in our district in the very best facilities that we have,” said Tillar.

Dr. Tillar said the 480 3rd through 5th graders will be in a separate wing of the high school, so parents shouldn’t be afraid of younger children being around older students.

“We have very good teachers, we have a very good administrative team that knows how to make sure that our younger students stay separate from our older students,” Dr. Tillar explained.

Teacher Kireem Liles agrees with the plan.

“I don’t think there would be that many problems,” Liles said. “I think there would be more problems if they tried to move the middle-schoolers up because they’re closer in age, some high-schoolers might fight them.”

Many at the meeting Wednesday night were mostly upset that the board passed the decision and then went to get community input afterward. Board members on hand said they wished every meeting got as much attention, and encouraged parents to get more involved moving forward.

Dr. Tillar said this arrangement is likely temporary until the proper  repairs can be made to the buildings.