SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Sumter County will be closing two schools next fall.
The board of trustees voted Tuesday night to close Mayewood Middle School and F.J. Delaine Elementary School. The move means Mayewood Middle will consolidate with R.E. Davis Elementary and Delaine Elementary will consolidate with Cherryvale Elementary.
"We think it's…going to be an opportunity for us to recruit new teachers, families to our community to live, work, and play," said Chris Harden of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, "but it's also going to provide a better pipeline for workforce development for the 21st century for these students."
While there were some in attendance who approved the move, there were others from the community who disagreed. The NAACP said this proposal is potentially harmful to black students living in rural communities. In a statement, the organization "expressed concerns surrounding the rushed and non-transparent process that has surrounded the proposals to close schools attended by predominately black students in rural Sumter by the end of 2018. Indeed, officials did not even attempt to hear from the community menbers or undertake any studies of the consequences of the closures, which still have not been made public, until many months after targeting predominately black schools for closure."
Ernest W. Frierson, a minister living in Sumter County, would like to see one of the schools serve the community in another capacity.
"The Superintendent has been talking about creating magnet schools in the rural areas," said Ernest W. Frierson. "Since we house an alternative setting at Mayewood Middle, I would like to see Mayewood Middle designated as a magnet school.
The school district previous discussed closing and consolidating schools at previous meetings. In fact, the original proposal included a third consolidation. However, it was removed after several community meetings.