DENMARK -- Bamberg County's two school boards on Monday named a single superintendent and deputy superintendent to lead the two districts as they prepare for consolidation.
Dottie Brown was named superintendent of Bamberg-Ehrhardt School District 1 and Denmark-Olar School District 2.
Dr. Deonia Simmons was named the deputy superintendent of both school districts.
Brown and Simmons will assume their new positions on July 1.
Brown currently serves as the interim superintendent for District 1 and Simmons currently serves as the interim superintendent for District 2.
The boards also unanimously named Devon Furr as director of finance for the two school districts and Ricky Padgett as director of technology for the districts.
They will also assume the positions July 1.
Furr currently serves as director of finance for District 1 and Padgett serves as the director of technology for District 1.
The announcements were made during a joint meeting of the boards at the Bamberg County School District 2 administrative office.
Trustees went into closed session to discuss the consolidation of the districts before coming back into open session to take action.
Upon returning to open session, a joint statement was read stating that both districts have been preparing for consolidation with the intention of reducing the decline in student population and “creating opportunities for academic success” for every student in the county.
The districts’ consolidation plan has been approved by the South Carolina Department of Education.
“In planning for consolidation, the district sought to keep student achievement and success at the forefront of the planning process,” the joint statement said. “With the leadership of the Bamberg County School District ready to serve, the district seeks to build a stronger consolidated district.”
The joint statement notes that the plan to improve declining student enrollment is to “recruit talented educational professionals committed to the district's future and strengthen the communities of Bamberg County.”
“The district will move forward in its mission to serve the community by educating children and future leaders of Bamberg County,” the districts said.
The meeting was held less than a week after Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, introduced Senate Bill 771 to require the consolidation of the districts.
As proposed, the bill would dissolve the existing two school districts and boards on July 1, 2022, and would create the Bamberg County Consolidated School District.
The bill also stipulates the new, consolidated district would be governed by a seven-member board, which initially would be appointed by the Bamberg County Legislative Delegation.
A new, nonpartisan board would be elected during the November 2022 general election.
The 2022 tax millage would be determined and calculated by the S.C. Department of Revenue based on the 2021 levy of the two present school districts and the value of a mill in each district.
The new school district would have total fiscal autonomy beginning in 2024.
The bill requires three readings in the S.C. Senate before moving to the S.C. House for three readings. When both bodies agree on the bill, it will go to the governor's desk for his signature.
Both Hutto and Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, have said they wish to move forward with the consolidation of the districts. They say consolidation would reduce administrative costs and equalize teacher pay.