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Time to get serious about upgrading our school facilities

on Tuesday, 27 February 2018. Posted in Letters to the Editor, Opinions

The students of the District One Student Facilities Committee are to be commended for their initiative in developing a committee to expose the embarrassing physical needs within Florence’s high schools. Now, if only the adults in education and the voting community would get as serious as the students, the teaching atmosphere would become significantly improved.

The district administration, school principals, and school board have long been aware of these problems and have repeatedly kicked the can down the road. The dedicated faculty members and students at West Florence daily are personally living with the mold, unsanitary restrooms, overpopulation, inadequate security, and pathetic mobile classrooms at the 48-year-old West Florence High School.

District administrators should have no more excuses for the inexcusable lack of maintenance and should be held accountable for their minimal responses. The administrations at Florence-Darlington Technical College and at Francis Marion University would never allow even one of their academic buildings to get into such a deplorable condition. Neither would our Florence City or County Councils tolerate this long-term disrepair.

On an even more crucial note, the senseless murders of 17 innocent students and faculty at Parkland High School should make the administration and parents very aware of the security risks at West Florence. It is no classified secret that West Florence was built with 68 entry points into the facility. There is a lockdown protocol in place, but with only 35 security cameras and 2 SRO officers, the school can be considered as a soft target for any disturbed intruder with a weapon and intentions of killing people. West Florence is a tragedy waiting to happen. The unsafe design of this building is also a potential legal liability for District One. A more securely constructed school is needed as soon as possible in order to avoid another Parkland disaster.

With increasing teacher shortages documented in Florence and throughout South Carolina, recruitment and retention at West Florence are adversely affected by such deplorable working conditions.

What business could expect to prosper if they subjected their employees (faculty) and customers (students) to a Corridor Of Shame environment? What high quality teacher recruits would agree to work in this atmosphere?

Successful communities are judged by the successful quality of their public education. Elementary and middle schools are vital in preparing students for the high school curriculum. High schools are the iconic symbols of the value of education in any city.

The Charleston County School District is spending $34 million on an athletic stadium. $34 million for a football stadium! And our local school officials and citizens are bickering over spending money to improve and replace academic buildings.

Florence citizens should have enough pride in their commitment to education to demand better and safer schools and vote to fund these improvements. It’s time to get serious about upgrading our educational facilities in Florence

Carroll Player, DDS

Florence, SC

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