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DENMARK – Bamberg County’s two school districts will discuss consolidating into one.

The trustees of the counties’ two districts will come together for a special called meeting to discuss the idea at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 8, at the District 2 administrative offices located at 62 Holly Ave. in Denmark.

The two boards will just discuss the idea, according to Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.

“There certainly needs to be community input and transparency and discussion, and we need to talk about it. In counties as small as these, it just does not make any sense to have two sets of people hiring school teachers. There needs to be a consolidated board that can run these school districts,” Hutto said.

The state budget includes money designed to give small districts the incentive to consolidate.

“There was up to $50 million in incentive money put into the budget directed at the many school districts that have student populations less than 1,500,” Hutto said.

Hutto said the funds have helped kick-start consolidation discussions.

“These smaller districts in these rural areas, it’s just a matter of time before they’re going to have to consolidate. I think that’s the whole idea of putting the incentive money in the budget. Whatever impediments may be there, let’s go ahead and incentivize the districts to develop their own plans of how they want to do it,” Hutto said.

Hutto said around 24 percent of the $50 million is for consolidation incentives.

“There’s nothing to say that the remaining $37 million can’t also be used for that. It is the priority of (S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman) to go ahead and incentivize these districts,” he said.

In order to tap into the incentive funds, school districts must apply through the S.C. Department of Education by Aug. 1.

Hutto noted that a meeting is scheduled to take place next Tuesday to determine the criteria and the application process.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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