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GEORGETOWN — Students will continue to attend classes at Plantersville Elementary School.Georgetown County School District Superintendent Keith Price said at the Feb. 21 board meeting there hasn’t been any formal discussions to close the school, which has the smallest elementary school in state with 67 students. Georgetown County ’s nine elementary schools have 375 students on average, according to state data.Plantersville residents flocked to the Feb. 21 board meeting to support the elementary school because ...
GEORGETOWN — Students will continue to attend classes at Plantersville Elementary School.
Georgetown County School District Superintendent Keith Price said at the Feb. 21 board meeting there hasn’t been any formal discussions to close the school, which has the smallest elementary school in state with 67 students. Georgetown County ’s nine elementary schools have 375 students on average, according to state data.
Plantersville residents flocked to the Feb. 21 board meeting to support the elementary school because Price was making a presentation on the school’s per-pupil cost and proximity to the students it serves.
Price said the presentation was only informational and made in response to questions raised last fall by the board of trustees. The trustees asked why Plantersville Elementary School’s per-pupil costs were nearly twice the district’s average.
“I’m not going to speculate on a closing or anything, this is right now just information that the board’s asking questions about,” Price said.
Plantersville Elementary serves students in preschool through fifth grade. The school’s enrollment zone straddles U.S. Highway 701 and stretches from the Horry County line nearly to Georgetown. Enrollment has dwindled into the double digits in recent years.
The school served less than 10 students in three of its seven grade levels at the time of the 45-day count, including just three in the second grade.
An additional 19 students requested and received transfers from Plantersville Elementary for various reasons this school year. Maryville Elementary School took in the most transfers at nine, closely followed by Kensington Elementary School with eight.
In 2021-22, the per-pupil costs at Plantersville Elementary were $27,695, slightly down from 2019-20 but up from the previous school year. That figure was nearly double the district’s average cost for an elementary student.
Price said schools with smaller enrollments have higher per-pupil costs, as they also require teachers, administration and janitorial staff like larger schools.
“We have to allocate more resources to a smaller school to be able to offer as close to a balanced experience as we do in the others,” Price said.
The board also heard from Price on the school’s proximity to its students. Price said Plantersville Elementary students live within a 10-minute drive from the school.
The nearest elementary school to Plantersville Elementary is Kensington Elementary, about 12 miles away via U.S. Highway 701. Brown’s Ferry Elementary School is 16 miles away via U.S. Highway 701 and S.C. Highway 51.
Georgetown County Council Chairman Louis Morant, a Plantersville resident and alum of Plantersville Elementary, attended the Feb. 21 school board meeting. Morant said Plantersville has had concerns for years about the elementary school closing, but preserving it is key to the area’s culture, especially for its children.
“We are losing the cultural aspect of our community by our students going (to other schools),” Morant said. “You may have some going to Brown’s Ferry, some going to Kensington, some going to Maryville, some come to McDonald. So when they come to get back within their community, they don’t know each other.”
In October, Price announced the district received $15 million to turn its Carvers Bay-area schools into magnet schools. Plantersville Elementary, whose students are zoned into Carvers Bay middle and high schools, was included in the program. The magnet program will begin this fall.
Principal Darryl Stanley said the school would become Plantersville Elementary Digital Immersion School under the magnet program, using collaboration with Coastal Carolina University and Boeing to continue the school’s technology education.
The magnet school program has not received unanimous acclaim in the Carvers Bay area. Residents told the board in November they felt the district did not engage enough with the community prior to choosing a magnet school program director.
Price said one of the goals of the magnet school program is to increase district enrollment. It could attract students to Plantersville who haven’t considered it before, and bring back students who transferred from the school, he said.
School board trustee Keith Moore, who represents Plantersville, thanked residents for attending the Feb. 21 meeting and said he hopes to share more with the community as the board discusses the school’s outcomes.
GEORGETOWN — Ten acres in the Plantersville community have been secured for a “cultural complex” project, New York-based conservation group Open Space Institute and Georgetown County nonprofit The Village Group announced Feb. 28.The tract at the southern intersection of U.S. Highway 701 and Exodus Drive about 10 miles north of Georgetown will become the Plantersville Cultural Complex, which is described as “a community park space centered around a small example of the unique rice fields that enslaved Africans e...
GEORGETOWN — Ten acres in the Plantersville community have been secured for a “cultural complex” project, New York-based conservation group Open Space Institute and Georgetown County nonprofit The Village Group announced Feb. 28.
The tract at the southern intersection of U.S. Highway 701 and Exodus Drive about 10 miles north of Georgetown will become the Plantersville Cultural Complex, which is described as “a community park space centered around a small example of the unique rice fields that enslaved Africans engineered, built, and grew into the largest rice-producing region in the world.”
Rice, along with indigo, was a staple crop in the early Georgetown area. South Carolina’s Georgetown District produced almost half of all American rice as of 1840, and a former market building on Georgetown’s Front Street today houses the Rice Museum. Georgetown County cites 1919 as the date of the county’s final commercial rice harvest.
A joint press release from The Village Group and Open Space Institute said plans for the project include “meeting and office space including a multi-use classroom.” Space is a necessary amenity for the interpretive learning experiences that will be hosted at the complex, setting the project apart from the existing Plantersville Cultural Center, said Ray Funnye, The Village Group Founder and executive director.
Funnye, a Plantersville native and resident, said there is not yet a timeline for the project’s development, though the completed complex will be “a source of immense community pride and opportunity as well as a place to honor the struggles and triumphs of our ancestors.”
The beaches of the Waccamaw Neck across the Waccamaw River from Plantersville and mainland Georgetown County are blessings to the county, as Funnye said, and have long been a draw for tourists near and far. But Funnye sees the cultural complex as an alternative for families interested in visiting Georgetown County’s western side and learning about its history.
“We would offer our fellow citizens an opportunity to come across the river and explore the other part of Georgetown County,” Funnye said. “We hope to have the type of amenities that people can come and learn and enjoy some of the uniqueness of our community.”
The tract acquired for the cultural complex project lies within the Pee Dee River Planters Historic District, which includes 17 rice plantations along the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, according to the S.C. Department of Archives and History.
Executive Director Raleigh West of the S.C. Conservation Bank, which granted money to assist with the land acquisition, said protecting the Plantersville area is important to passing on the stories of the enslaved Africans behind the region’s rice crop.
“Our state’s history — both the good and the bad — is inextricably tied to our land,” West said.
Founder and CEO Marilyn Hemingway of the Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce called the land acquisition “an exciting testimony to the fortitude of the Village Group as it operates in the footsteps of our ancestors.”
The Gullah Geechee are descendants of the enslaved Africans that worked on plantations along the southern Atlantic coast of the United States. The National Park Service’s Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor reaches roughly from Wilmington, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla. Hemingway’s chamber of commerce is based out of Georgetown.
“Their plans for the Cultural Complex will be an impactful addition to the Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail in preserving our cultural knowledge of managing the water and land to grow rice,” Hemingway said of The Village Group.
A steady stream of parents and children filed in and out of the J.B. Beck Administration Building seeking information about the Georgetown County School District’s new Magnet Schools Assistance Program.Some had already made up their minds to send their children to school in the Carvers Bay area and filled out an online application before heading home.Others were undecided and left with the information they gathered to make a decision at a later time. The deadline to apply for the program is April 28.Whichever group...
A steady stream of parents and children filed in and out of the J.B. Beck Administration Building seeking information about the Georgetown County School District’s new Magnet Schools Assistance Program.
Some had already made up their minds to send their children to school in the Carvers Bay area and filled out an online application before heading home.
Others were undecided and left with the information they gathered to make a decision at a later time. The deadline to apply for the program is April 28.
Whichever group the parents fell into, Superintendent Keith Price was happy to see them.
“The stream of traffic has been steady, but it’s hasn’t been overwhelming,” Price said during a showcase for the program this week. “I think folks have had the opportunity to stop in and have very detailed, one-on-one conversations with representatives from each school. I see lots of smiling faces.”
The magnet program will begin at Brown’s Ferry, Plantersville and Pleasant Hill elementary schools, and Carvers Bay middle and high schools when the new school year starts in August. Each school will have its own theme: creative and performing arts, digital immersion, STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, math), STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math), and early college and career.
Principals and staff members from all five schools were on hand Monday to give out information – and in some cases candy – and answer questions.
“No one’s really throwing them a curveball,” Price said. “There’s a couple questions about some transportation details, but overall lots of good inquiring questions about the program.”
Johanna Verner, the curriculum coach at Plantersville, said the staff is “bubbling over with excitement” about the transition to a digital immersion school.
“Teachers of course are going to be learning new things like ways to immerse technology, more hands-on learning and project-based learning into the curriculum,” Verner said.
Verner called immersion the “education of the future.” Plantersville already uses artificial intelligence to help students become better readers by listening to them read aloud.
“We’re moving into that realm to help children to better function and apply the skills they learn in the classroom in the real world,” Verner said.
Errin Gibson lives in Andrews but is an instructional assistant for the kindergarten class at Brown’s Ferry. Both her daughters – Sarah Grace and Regan Winter – are interested in the arts so she is considering having them join her in the new year. She thinks there will be bigger opportunities and more fun things to do for them.
“I’d be really excited because I like to dance,” said Sarah Grace, a fourth-grader.
Ebony Gourdine lives in Georgetown and her daughter attends Kensington Elementary School.
“She’s really smart so I want to push her as much as I can and this seems like a really good program,” Gourdine said.
Gourdine applied to the magnet program at Monday’s event because she feels like her daughter, who is 10, needs some separation from her friends.
“When you’re comfortable, you tend to follow in the path. I don’t want her following into the wrong crowd,” Gourdine said. “She can see her friends after school. She can see her friends in the summer.”
Monday’s event also gave the district a chance to unveil the new branding for the schools, which includes new logos. Carvers Bay High’s iconic bear got a makeover with input from students, staff and parents.
Price believes that more parents will choose to send their child to one of the magnet schools in the 2024-25 school year, once everyone sees how well the program is doing.
“Year one is not going to be perfect. This will be an ongoing improvement process. We’re going get better every day and every year,” Price said. “I was talking to someone from Carvers Bay Middle. We said if we’re able to put together a quality experience in year one, then the word of mouth will sell this.”
The application for the magnet school program is available on the district’s website. There are no academic or GPA requirements or tests to pass to be accepted. If more students apply for a school than there is room for, a lottery system will be used.
Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us. Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org. Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com. , .
This blog was written by Janae Davis and Fay Hartman.In Episode 26 of We Are Rivers, we take a deeper look at the National Wildlife Refuge System and why it is so important to health of America’s natural resources. We explore the many benefits that the ...
This blog was written by Janae Davis and Fay Hartman.
In Episode 26 of We Are Rivers, we take a deeper look at the National Wildlife Refuge System and why it is so important to health of America’s natural resources. We explore the many benefits that the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge provide for human and natural communities in coastal South Carolina and why the minor boundary modification of Refuge was critical in ensuring that these benefits are preserved for future generations. Tune in today!
Over the years, a warming climate, sea level rise and rapid development has posed a growing threat to wildlife in and around the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge (WNWR) in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Faced with the need to provide additional habitat for animals and plants to thrive coupled with federal restrictions on expanding the Refuge, Craig Sasser, the WNWR Manager, used an innovative approach. Working with a team of service staff and key partners, Sasser developed a ground-breaking proposal that allowed lands within the existing Refuge boundary that were unlikely to become federally protected to be exchanged for those in surrounding forests that could play a key role in improving the resilience of wildlife and communities along the Waccamaw River.
In Episode 26, we hear from Craig and essential partners at the Open Space Institute, The Village Group (a local non-profit in Plantersville, South Carolina) and American Rivers who were involved with the minor boundary modification to learn how diverse groups came together to support their local Refuge.
After years of hard work, Sasser and Refuge partners’ efforts paid off when the boundary modification was approved by US Fish and Wildlife Regional Director, Leopoldo Miranda. The Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is the first refuge in the country to successfully use minor boundary modification as an approach to conserve land and build climate resilience.
The minor boundary modification removed 6,849 acres of land from the Refuge which were unlikely to be protected by the Refuge or no longer provided quality wildlife habitat due to local activities that had permanently changed the landscape. The boundary has been modified so that 6,638 new acres can be added to the Refuge through the purchase of properties from willing landowners. These new lands harbor critical riverside habitat that will help local wildlife withstand the effects of climate change, improve public access to the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers, enhance recreational opportunities and ecotourism in the region, support clean drinking water and reduce flood risks in surrounding communities.
The Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is a lifeline for residents in coastal South Carolina. As a central site along the Waccamaw River Blue Trail, it is critical to the region’s economy, environment and quality of life. Tune in today to learn more from Craig and other partners about the importance of the minor boundary modification for residents and wildlife in coastal South Carolina.
GEORGETOWN — A project to bring a pedestrian and bicycle trail to the Plantersville area received Georgetown County Council’s attention on Aug. 23 after months of planning, but considerable work remains ahead.The $49 million Plantersville Scenic Byway/Choppee Black River Trail project, as described by Britt Storck of Alta Planning + Design’s Atlanta office, would run the trail for 23 miles, mostly along Choppee and Plantersville roads, with plans for trailheads and bridge improvements along the way.The Planter...
GEORGETOWN — A project to bring a pedestrian and bicycle trail to the Plantersville area received Georgetown County Council’s attention on Aug. 23 after months of planning, but considerable work remains ahead.
The $49 million Plantersville Scenic Byway/Choppee Black River Trail project, as described by Britt Storck of Alta Planning + Design’s Atlanta office, would run the trail for 23 miles, mostly along Choppee and Plantersville roads, with plans for trailheads and bridge improvements along the way.
The Plantersville Scenic Byway as currently mapped on The Village Group’s website extends 12 miles, from Mount Carmel United Missionary Baptist Church in the northeast to the Plantersville Cultural Center in the southwest.
Georgetown County Public Services Director Ray Funnye said he believes the project would open the western portion of the county to “ecotourism, economic vitality and enhanced community and cultural engagement.”
Funding of the project will likely be the greatest obstacle, but Storck said she believes the county to be well-positioned to receive grants.
“There’s going to be some more coordination as you get into design, with utilities, property owners, businesses that need to be visited throughout,” Storck said. “And while we have set up the county with what we think is a very comprehensive, strong plan, prioritization and phasing need to be revisited regularly as things change.”
Storck noted that projects like the one she presented can sometimes take decades. But she also said that the impact of similar trail projects goes beyond what meets the eye.
“It’s not just tourism dollars and tax revenue,” Storck said. “It’s also health benefits, reduced health costs, that sort of thing.”
Councilman Bob Anderson said he would like to see potential maintenance costs for the trail before the project is set in stone, noting that long-term maintenance will likely fall to the county.
“I think that’s going to be something I definitely want to know about,” Anderson said.
Councilmen Steve Goggans and Everett Carolina showed concern for projects in their own districts. Goggans said a number of path projects in his Waccamaw Neck district have gone unfunded and that other areas of the county should prioritized as well — particularly those that will provide a return on investment.
Carolina asked if studies similar to that compiled for the Choppee Black River Trail project have been undertaken or considered for other sections of the county.
“It’s almost a parallel situation,” Carolina said of the potential for similar development in his district, which covers much of southern Georgetown County.
The council did not take any action on the trail project at the workshop.