Parents talk proposed school district merger in Laurens Co.

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LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – We’re hearing from parents in an Upstate county with two school districts facing possible consolidation.

The bills would get rid of Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56.

Read more about House Bill 5317 and 5318

β€œI found out about it actually on social media,” said District 56 parent Elizabeth Loftis. β€œThat’s the first time I heard about it.. Seen about it.. Anything.”

The state lawmaker behind the move told 7News Monday that it’s been tabled for now. 

Representative Mike Pitts is proposing bills that would combine the two Laurens County school districts into one district.

The legislation was introduced in the Statehouse last Wednesday and headed to the Senate by Friday. 

β€œI felt more.. A little blindsided,” said Loftis. 

The school board chair of District 56 said in a statement, “It is of great concern that this legislation was proposed without any warning or discussion in the community.”

The school board chair of District 55 said in a statement that they’re concerned about the impact this is having on staff as right now  they’re focused on end-of-year testing.

The legislation proposed by Pitts suggests “centralizing all administrative functions” would save the district money and financial power would be in the county’s hands.    

β€œBut you have to think about it,” said District 55 grandparent Sonya Garrett who wants to know the bottom line. β€œIf we can get more financing through this.”

She also echoed other parents’ concerns over what a merger would mean for schools. 

β€œIf it affects the schools, it could affect the children,” said District 55 parent Kimberly Haupfear. 

Representative Pitts tells 7News after meeting with delegation Monday they’ll table the consolidation, and get input from the school districts and the community.

It’s comments Loftis said are necessary. 

“The main question I would say is what does that mean for the kids?” she said. β€œFor them to do something highly important like that, you know, that responds directly to our kids they should at least say hey this is what’s going to happen. What do you guys think?”

7News reached out to both school districts for comment on the legislation being tabled and are waiting to hear back.

Representative Pitts tells 7News they decided to form an advisory committee to study the consolidation, that they hope to bring the idea back up in the Statehouse in January.

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