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School District Consolidation

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I've been on the fence as to whether this issue is really pertinent to what we normally discuss here on UrbanPlanet. The issue of consolidating school districts in Spartanburg County is quite complicated, and goes back many years. Gov Sanford has requested that the legislature look into reforming the school districts in South Carolina, namely through consolidation. Sumter County combined its two districts into one county-wide district. Spartanburg County currently has the most school districts of any in the state with seven. The way we do business regarding schools is going to directly impact the way we can grow as a community. Now, the article in the Herald-Journal today make some laughable attempts to justify the number of school districts. Particularly the last part where they try to spin it as more in line with Republican values. Thats a crock if you ask me. When has any good Republican ever supported unnecessary government, especially at the administrative level?

So, why do we need seven school districts?

edit: Herald-Journal Article

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I've been on the fence as to whether this issue is really pertinent to what we normally discuss here on UrbanPlanet. The issue of consolidating school districts in Spartanburg County is quite complicated, and goes back many years. Gov Sanford has requested that the legislature look into reforming the school districts in South Carolina, namely through consolidation. Sumter County combined its two districts into one county-wide district. Spartanburg County currently has the most school districts of any in the state with seven. The way we do business regarding schools is going to directly impact the way we can grow as a community. Now, the article in the Herald-Journal today make some laughable attempts to justify the number of school districts. Particularly the last part where they try to spin it as more in line with Republican values. Thats a crock if you ask me. When has any good Republican ever supported unnecessary government, especially at the administrative level?

So, why do we need seven school districts?

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This is just ridiculous. What this all amounts to is Spartanburg's resistance to change on anything. And all of this was clearly a political rally. I agree that one county-wide district doesn't make sense. But 4 seems reasonable to me.

Come to think of it though, I haven't seen or heard any actual debate or reasoning behind anyone in Spartanburg on this issue. I am assuming that Sanford's crowd has done theirs and that their research shows what will work.

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The jury is still out in my book about this whole situation.

Having said that, I think a lot of people are equating consolidating districts with consolidating high schools. That is just wrong I think.

Also as I see it, attendance lines won't be affected. However there are some screwy lines right now. District 6 goes way up the county. District 7 is squashed. If we are going to start messing with number of districts, then we might as well go ahead and work some new attendance lines allowing those already in the district the opportunity to "grandfather" in their same school.

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I think the main goal of consolidating the districts is eliminating several of the district offices. I have been for this all along as I think it is ridiculous having 7 different district offices all doing the same thing as well as 7 fat cat superintendents who don't do anything other than drive around the county when there is snow to determine whether there will be school the next day. There is a lot of pork here that can be eliminated by the consolidation of several districts.

I do however think Dorman Univ needs its own district. When it moved out to Roebuck, it added several new square miles of territory to its district. That could use redrawing. I could be wrong but when I was growing up, all the folks in the California Avenue part of town went to Dorman. If that is still the case, you talking about a 30 minutes plus bus ride to school. Thats insane when SHS is 10 minutes away.

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We don't need seven school districts but I doubt we'll see a complete across-the-board consolidation. Perhaps combining districts 1 & 2 and 3 & 7 might be a more realistic goal but anything more drastic might be too much for our community to swallow at this time. Didn't Spartanburg County once have something like 89 districts at one time? Boy, that must have been something to work through!

I hope responsible people in the community will start to look beyond the emotional rhetoric and histrionics of this issue and carefully consider what's at stake here. And I think you know what I mean.

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That could use redrawing. I could be wrong but when I was growing up, all the folks in the California Avenue part of town went to Dorman. If that is still the case, you talking about a 30 minutes plus bus ride to school. Thats insane when SHS is 10 minutes away.

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That wasn't the case when I was in high school in the mid-60's when Dorman opened. I had friends living right behind McRey's Lighting as well a friend who lived right next to the Girl Scout camp about a block from Dorman who went to SHS.

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Consolidation of districts in Spartanburg might be beneficial or it may not.

What are the current sizes of the seven? While seven may sound like a lot, Spartanburg is a big county. Florence County has 5 and has less than half the population. Florence District 5 has only three schools total, one elementary, one middle and one single A high school. The district-wide enrollment is less than probably 30-40% of the entire state's high schools. Yet despite having similiar demographics to the other four Florence districts, it has the best test scores.

From what I've seen, Spartanburg County supports and takes pride in it's schools to a much deeper degree than I have seen elsewhere. Scores are good, and athletics and extracurricular (ie Bands) tend to have broad and deep community support. Is it worth risking that for a theoretical 'savings'?

What some accountant says can be saved on paper, may not turn out to be so in real life. We all know Sanford seldom recognizes that. What is gained by having only 1 Superintendent instead of 7, if the number of 'Assistant Superintendents' that are paid almost as much grows? The larger the district, the more the Superintendent will be expected to make, further eroding any savings.

Big district superintendents tend to last four years or less, and have lots of controversy during their tenure. Is that the case now?

Economy of scale is a reality, but it also has limitations. Beyond a certain level, the economies to be gained by being larger diminsh, or even disappear. Then there is the loss of direct input by parents who are not as connected to the decisionmakers.

Sanford and Davenport might be right, but they need to make their case and have it throughly vetted. If the savings is minimal, I wouldn't take the risk of fixing what isn't broken to start with. Bigger does not equal better.

Some the the REALLY smaller and under funded districts would probably benefit much more than Sburg in this situation.

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Consolidation of districts in Spartanburg might be beneficial or it may not.

What are the current sizes of the seven? While seven may sound like a lot, Spartanburg is a big county. Florence County has 5 and has less than half the population. Florence District 5 has only three schools total, one elementary, one middle and one single A high school. The district-wide enrollment is less than probably 30-40% of the entire state's high schools. Yet despite having similiar demographics to the other four Florence districts, it has the best test scores.

From what I've seen, Spartanburg County supports and takes pride in it's schools to a much deeper degree than I have seen elsewhere. Scores are good, and athletics and extracurricular (ie Bands) tend to have broad and deep community support. Is it worth risking that for a theoretical 'savings'?

What some accountant says can be saved on paper, may not turn out to be so in real life. We all know Sanford seldom recognizes that. What is gained by having only 1 Superintendent instead of 7, if the number of 'Assistant Superintendents' that are paid almost as much grows? The larger the district, the more the Superintendent will be expected to make, further eroding any savings.

Big district superintendents tend to last four years or less, and have lots of controversy during their tenure. Is that the case now?

Economy of scale is a reality, but it also has limitations. Beyond a certain level, the economies to be gained by being larger diminsh, or even disappear. Then there is the loss of direct input by parents who are not as connected to the decisionmakers.

Sanford and Davenport might be right, but they need to make their case and have it throughly vetted. If the savings is minimal, I wouldn't take the risk of fixing what isn't broken to start with. Bigger does not equal better.

Some the the REALLY smaller and under funded districts would probably benefit much more than Sburg in this situation.

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Consolidation of districts in Spartanburg might be beneficial or it may not.

What are the current sizes of the seven? While seven may sound like a lot, Spartanburg is a big county. Florence County has 5 and has less than half the population. Florence District 5 has only three schools total, one elementary, one middle and one single A high school. The district-wide enrollment is less than probably 30-40% of the entire state's high schools. Yet despite having similiar demographics to the other four Florence districts, it has the best test scores.

From what I've seen, Spartanburg County supports and takes pride in it's schools to a much deeper degree than I have seen elsewhere. Scores are good, and athletics and extracurricular (ie Bands) tend to have broad and deep community support. Is it worth risking that for a theoretical 'savings'?

What some accountant says can be saved on paper, may not turn out to be so in real life. We all know Sanford seldom recognizes that. What is gained by having only 1 Superintendent instead of 7, if the number of 'Assistant Superintendents' that are paid almost as much grows? The larger the district, the more the Superintendent will be expected to make, further eroding any savings.

Big district superintendents tend to last four years or less, and have lots of controversy during their tenure. Is that the case now?

Economy of scale is a reality, but it also has limitations. Beyond a certain level, the economies to be gained by being larger diminsh, or even disappear. Then there is the loss of direct input by parents who are not as connected to the decisionmakers.

Sanford and Davenport might be right, but they need to make their case and have it throughly vetted. If the savings is minimal, I wouldn't take the risk of fixing what isn't broken to start with. Bigger does not equal better.

Some the the REALLY smaller and under funded districts would probably benefit much more than Sburg in this situation.

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Districts never meant as much as the specific school to me. As a Spartanburg county graduate I associated much more with the schools I attended versus the district. And as far as rivalries are concerned, merging the districts shouldn't change those. Consolidation can't physically move locales so the rivalries/school associations would remain intact IMO. You would think citizens of the county would be for this as they sure as h@!! don't like to pay taxes. At the same time, God forbid you change anything.

As my favorite saying from college goes: "There's no such thing as a free lunch"

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The pattern is that people don't want anything to change unless its a road widening or a new strip mall or fastfood place. Period. Thats the pattern of growth most of us have grown up with, so clearly thats the best way to do business [/sarcasm].

I suppose to some extent I always identified with my school, but I recognized it as part of my district. Ultimately the high school is what the district revolves around. But I suppose with District 1 or 2 that might not be the case since those districts have 2 high schools. But like you said thats not the only reason to opposed change. The attendance lines would not be significantly altered as far as I can tell.

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It's very strange to me that a district virtually revolves around one high school and that number would be a reason to oppose the change. What's the big deal? I went to one of 15 (I believe) in one district. And while some districts might have 2, from what I hear it's really just like they have one. Is Chesney not the red-headed step-child compared to Boiling Springs?

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I'm not sure but I think Boiling Springs and Chapman are in the same district (District 2).

Chesnee is indeed the red headed step child of Boiling Springs and for Spartanburg County in general. I have friends that live in Boiling Springs but have Chesnee addresses. It drives them crazy to be associated with the Chesneedians.

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Chapman HS and Landrum HS are in Dist 1.

Boiling Springs HS and Chesnee HS are in Dist 2.

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Sorry about the spelling. I knew it looked wrong, but I couldn't think of how to fix it.

Is that people don't want too many schools in one district? Are they afraid of sharing funds and being left out? To me, it seems like too much waste to duplicate positions in 7 districts when you could have one superintendent, one school board, etc. What's the pros of being split? :dontknow:

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I think that question is the root of the problem. Nobody has laid out the pros and cons. Its just an order from the Governor's Mansion. Thats all people see. Does anyone out there have any opinions on what the pros and cons are?

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Well I think its pretty obvious what the cons are when you have 7 district offices that are all doing the same thing for whatever size their district is. That means at each district office you have a superintendent (usually making 100K per year), an assistant super, finance, human resources, communications, and whatever other administation positions they have. Plus you have 7 different buildings to maintain. I really think as do many other folks in our county that this is another waste of tax payer money. People routinely beotch about our education taxes and what we get for them. Well you don't need to look any further than this for one form of wasting money.

Why not do it the logical way and have everyone under one roof ala the Greenville School District ( http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/index.asp )? They have 61 schools (and thats just counting elementary, middle, and high school) in their district without counting early learning and special needs. I'm sure they have some waste also, but it cannot be to our degree. Again consolidating school districts is not about consolidating schools like so many seem to think in the Spartanburg Herald. Just because Districts 3 and 7 come together, that doesn't mean Broome and SHS are going to merge. It means you're cutting out the overkill at the district offices.

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I'm not so sure the 1 county-wide school district is the way to go. I think at some point you get a bureaucracy that is too large. Some argue that our schools in Spartanburg perform better than those in Greenville (I haven't checked to verify though). I always heard that growing up in Spartanburg. There is a lot of infighting in Greenville from what I hear. Then you have Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which is the County district here in Charlotte. Its quite the mess, and they are actually working on a decentralization plan to creating these "pseudo-districts" within the county that I don't fully understand. Point being, there is some merit to having multiple school districts, but I think that one big one is not the best approach.

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The argument can be made either way. One whole is too large with wasteful spending all around or 7 smaller where there is no direct oversight on spending. Perhaps Ralph Davenport is correct (this would be a first for this guy) and you make 3 consolidations (1&2, 3&7, and 4&5). Geographically, that makes sense as those districts are connected anyway.

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It would definitely depend on which school district you were in. I'd have a hard time believing that every Spartanburg County school district is better than Greenville's, which includes both rural, suburban, and urban schools. One thing I've always heard is that Spartanburg districts pay better than Greenville's, but that doesn't necessarily equate to better performance. Greenville used to have 'area superintendents' I believe. I think they were cut and all power was given to the district-wide leader, who I believe makes over $200,000/year.

One puzzling thing about the SAT scores is the percentages of students taking the test. Are the majority of kids not going to college in 6 out of 7 districts in Spartanburg County?

2006 District SAT scores

District----------Number Tested-------Percent Tested-----Avg Comp Score

Greenville-------------2,222--------------------62%----------------1,003

Spartanburg 1----------120---------------------32%---------------1,017

Spartanburg 2----------231---------------------47%-----------------973

Spartanburg 3-----------66----------------------36%----------------974

Spartanburg 4-----------81----------------------48%----------------975

Spartanburg 5----------143----------------------38%--------------1,009

Spartanburg 6----------299----------------------48%--------------1,034

Spartanburg 7----------277----------------------63%----------------998

Avg Score for all Spartanburg Districts: 997.14

Another plus I see to having one school district is the fact that you can offer unique programs at one school and attract kids from all across the County. For example, Blythe Academy offers the State's ONLY Partial Immersion program. It is offered in both French and Spanish for kids in k-5 through 5th grade. Instead of having multiple schools with this program and trying to find and hire well-qualified language teachers, the district can manage the program and its effectiveness at one school (though I believe they are looking into expanding it in the future to more schools. Blythe can only hold 1000 students I believe). The same can be said for Southside High having the county's only IB program. Why duplicate this or why bother with the hassle of going to a school in another district?

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