McCormick County School District

Moving at The Speed of Learning

History of Education, Page 2

   As previously mentioned many schools in the communities were at/or near the community churches because of the lack of paved roads. If it rained the children didn't go to school and/or church (C. Jennings 2001). In the 1930s, one-half mile of the Main Street in McCormick was the first road paved in McCormick County. SC28 was paved in increments beginning in 1930 and the original Furey's Ferry Bridge across the Savannah River en route to Augusta, GA opened on June 7, 1930. The paving projects stopped during World War II. US221 towards Greenwood was paved in the late 1940s. Thanks to watchful eyes of legislative delegations, these paving projects continued with financing from Federal programs in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to pave "Farm to Market Roads" (Edmonds 2001). The last road to a church site was paved in mid-1990s 

   It also should be noted that five school buses were available to transport only white children to school in 1944. This number increased to 13 in 1950, conveying black and white students separately. In 1951, the State Highway Department assumed maintenance of school busses. And in the mid-1960s the fleet consisted of 35. In November of 2000, the District was using 20 busses to transport 84.5percent of its students. That is 996 of 1179 students. Paving the roads played a big part in providing better education opportunities for students in this rural county. 

   In addition to the lack of roads, governing the rural schools was complicated by numerous school districts. Mr. McCracken states "when McCormick County was formed in 1916, thirty two (32) community school districts existed in the new county." It should be noted that at that time the town of McCormick had a population of 900. A school district map dated 1936 lists 27 districts but only identifies 12 actual schools. The assumption is made that this map only identified the location of the schools used by the white community. In Mr. Bobby Edmonds book "The Making of McCormick County" he states the following statistics for 1944.

1944-6 Schools (white)-6 Districts
District # 4-McCormick High and McCormick Grammar
District # 6-John de la Howe
District # 11-Wideman
District # 16-Bethany
District # 24-Plum Branch
District # 25-Washington Consolidated


1944-37 Schools (black)-15 Districts
District # 1-Boyd Chapel, Rock Ford, and Mount Pleasant
District # 2-Gibert Rosenwald, Little Mill, and Green Olive
District # 3-St. Charlotte and Martha's Chapel
District # 4-Mims High, Mr. Moriah, Chestnut Ridge, Springfield
District # 5-Holy Spring
District # 6-Mt. Zion
District # 7-St. Mary and Mulberry
District # 9-Glover's Chapel
District # 10 -Rock Hill
District # 11-Wideman
District # 14-Robinson
District # 15-Blue Branch
District # 16-Sand Hill, Lyon Chapel, Bailey Bethel
District # 24-Kitchen Town, White Town, Getar Springs, Pine Grove, New Hope, Mt. Moriah
District # 25-Cedar Spring, Mt. Lebanon, Branch, Laurel Grove, Bethany, Rock Grove, Hopewell Rosenwald

   In 1951, the SC State Legislature passed a 3 percent retail sales tax for education and reduced the number of school districts from 1220 to 109. A major portion of the sales tax revenue was used to build or renovate schools for black students. As a result, the 1954 school year in McCormick County opened as one (1) school district with 7 schools-3 for white students and 4 for black students. The sales tax funds had been used to construct the following:

Schools for white students:

   A high school for white students (now the Middle School), Plum Branch Elementary

Schools for black students:

   Mims # 3-an Elementary School in Willington, Mims # 2-a High School, (the current HS), New brick buildings (now part of the HS) at the Mims Elementary # 1(the old white building) Although several construction programs for various additions to those buildings have been undertaken since that time, no construction of the magnitude that transpired between 1951 and 1954 has been undertaken since. (See timeline by decade Exhibit # )

   To further complicate the governance of the schools, it is important to note that along with the separate-but-equal system, multiple school districts for black and white schools, there also existed two Superintendents involved with education. There was an appointed Superintendent and an elected Superintendent and both had boards, one appointed and one elected. Mr. Johnny McCracken, a prior Superintendent writes the following explanation:

Superintendent of Education-elected

   "It seems the general public has misunderstood the role of Superintendent of Education more than any other elected position in county government. Perhaps, if the title had been "Supervisor of Education" or "Chief Executive Officer", it may have been a bit clearer. Working under the laws of the State of South Carolina, the elected Superintendent of Education, and his/her appointed County Board of Education, have the authority to approve or disapprove actions of the school trustees in the various districts.
   
   Being elected, the Superintendent of Education is a county officer and operates his/her office within the framework of the county government and the state, and is accountable to the people. The Superintendent of Education is not required to hold professional school qualifications.

District Superintendent-appointed

   A "District Superintendent" is appointed by an elected Board of Trustees to operate the schools on a day by day basis in a certain district and is accountable to the Board of Trustees who, in turn, is accountable to the people. The District Superintendent is required to hold professional qualifications as prescribed by the State Department of Education.....there was duplication between the office of the Superintendent and the Office of the District Superintendent."

   After the major push for consolidation and new school construction, in 1954 the US Supreme Court ruled that separate schools were inherently unequal and districts operating segregated school systems should move "with all deliberate speed" to establish unitary systems. Activity by civil right interests and court decisions continued to mandate the elimination of dual school systems. Unitary public school systems appeared in South Carolina in 1969-70, when 12 districts operated desegregated schools. Eight districts eliminated their dual systems voluntarily and four districts established unitary systems under court orders.
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