State takes over Florence School District 4 due to financial issues

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TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Florence School District Four is now under a state of emergency due to ongoing financial issues. The State Superintendent Molly Spearman is now stepping in and taking over management. 

Spearman released a statement Wednesday morning saying she “will work quickly and diligently to find a sustainable solution to provide the students in Timmonsville with the opportunities they need and deserve for years to come.”

This isn’t the first time the state has had to intervene at FSD 4. Back in April 2016, the Department of Education took over school operations at Brockington Elementary School and Johnson Middle School due to low student achievement. Now they’re managing Timmonsville High School as well and are taking over district level operations.

Spearman tells News13 that the state has been monitoring the financial issues at FSD 4 for several years now but couldn’t intervene until the state legislature granted authority. She says the school district has consistently ended the school year in a deficit. Last week, she received notice from the auditor that the school district could possibly end up with a deficit of about $100,000.

“That’s not good stability. You cannot always be teetering on finishing your books in the red,” Spearman said. “So, some changes had to be made. Sometimes it’s easier when we can make those at the department of education so that’s why we’re here.“

This comes four months after the FSD 4 board and the newly-hired superintendent, Dr. Rechel Anderson, held a budget workshop after learning it was unclear how much money the district actually had. At that meeting in January, Certified Public Accountant, Larry Finney, advised the board to make some changes. 

“They’ve got a lot of work to do. They’ve got a very low fund balance and so they’ve got to make some improvements and decisions going forward,” Finney told News13 in January. 

Spearman says the board has “lost its authority to manage the school district,” effective immediately. The board will no longer hold meetings. All decisions will be made by the State Superintendent of Education and the Department of Education. 

The state is also looking into how the school district has been spending its money. 

“We have some questions about how the money has been managed. And that we want the money to go into more resources for students instead of paying salaries at the district level,” she said. 

News13 tried to contact FSD 4 Superintendent, Dr. Rechel Anderson, for comment but was unable to reach her.

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