Florence One school board discusses closing Florence Career Center

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The board for Florence One Schools discussed whether to close the Florence Career Center at a meeting Thursday night.

Florence One started the career center in 1956, but for about four hours, the school board talked about if it should try a different direction for the vocational programs with a nearby college.

“We need to be thinking of new and creative things that aren’t being done in South Carolina,” said school board vice chair Barry Townsend.

Florence One could move many of its career center programs to Florence-Darlington Technical College, creating the Advantage Academy. Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley says high school students will be able to take the same courses at the Advantage Academy.

He also says they could possibly earn college credits.

“Our students really have an opportunity to not only learn a trade, but they also have the ability, without paying, to obtain an associate’s degree,” Dr. O’Malley said.

Dr. O’Malley says the move to FDTC would save the district $4 million. Under this plan, the career center would close at the end of this school year and the programs would move next school year.

Some parents say the move would hurt students not interested in college.

“Once you start shifting them here, there, everywhere else, they’ll quit following,” said William Yarborough, who has a child who graduated from the career center.

Kitty Carpenter, who’s the director of the career center, agrees.

“We are one of the most successful career centers in the state with the facilities we have,” she said.

Thursday’s discussion centered around whether to allow Dr. O’Malley to work with FDTC to define what Advantage Academy will look like. Dr. O’Malley says the career center will be used for classes at next-door South Florence High School, eliminating mobile classrooms.

He also says it’s the best way to use the old building.

“In no strategic plan is the career center, as a facility, renovation really a possibility,” he said.

The school board will still need to approve an agreement with FDTC before the move could officially happen.

Count on News13 for updates.

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