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Letter to the Editor: BCSD superintendent looks forward to “strong, successful future together” as districts consolidate


To Our Communities, 

The past few weeks have been an emotional journey for many across our county. As the 2023-2024 school year draws to a close, we are bidding farewell to the beloved Barnwell County Consolidated School District (BCCSD) and Barnwell School District 45 (BSD45). While this transition is difficult, it is also an opportunity to honor our shared legacy and look forward to a united future. 

Our separate districts have held their final staff gatherings, and the Boards of Trustees for BCCSD, BSD45, and the Barnwell County Career Center have concluded their last meetings to officially close the current districts. Change is never easy, and saying goodbye can be heart-wrenching, but we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. On July 1st, we will officially become Barnwell County School District. It is my hope that any previous feelings about consolidation will now transform into a shared passion to make our countywide school district as strong as possible. Our schools, staff, and children deserve nothing less. 

I am thrilled about the positive changes happening throughout our county’s schools. This is a wonderful occasion to embrace new opportunities, celebrate our strengths and achievements, and address challenges with actionable steps. Our dedicated and talented employees are crucial to this endeavor, and I look forward to working alongside each of them to ensure our success. We are fortunate to have strong, supportive communities throughout Barnwell County, and as we face this unique consolidation, we will rely on this support while also forming stronger partnerships. 

As we embark on our first year as one school district, collaboration will continue to be key. We will plan and combine resources to enhance educational opportunities for our students. Stakeholder meetings for the 2024-2025 school year will allow key district leaders to share updates with important community groups. District teams and advisory groups are being finalized for the new school year, and our district-level leaders are eager to work with all our schools. In July, our first month as a new district, we have our Vision and Mission meeting planned with stakeholders across the county invited to come together and help us create the foundation for the unified strategic plan we will be developing during the 2024-2025 school year. 

I have been inspired by the collaborative spirit displayed by teams preparing for this consolidation. Whether deciding on a countywide assessment platform, creating a district calendar, choosing a parent communication system, analyzing technology infrastructure, addressing budget and facility needs with each school leader, or the many other aspects of district operations, teams with representation across the county have worked together with such a sense of purpose and unity. Since the last day of school, many more staff members have volunteered to serve on district committees this summer. This dedication embodies the way our schools are embracing the new district. 

We understand that there are now new decisions facing our Barnwell County School District Board of Trustees, and there are many opinions of what decisions should be made. I hope our communities can remember that these individuals did not ask to be on this Board, but instead they were called to represent our county because of their leadership experience and passion for children. Upon accepting the call to serve, they were presented with a monumental task to not only consolidate the district-level operations as we have done throughout this year, but also to put into effect a plan to have one countywide high school and career center. This is different than other consolidations that have occurred before us - where they didn’t face the immediate task of planning to close schools and making plans for one new comprehensive high school. The Board of Trustees for the new district wasn’t posed with a choice of whether to have a countywide high school or not, but instead tasked with determining how to be the best stewards of the funding provided to make it happen in the first years of consolidation. This is not a task they have taken lightly. It is remarkable the endless hours they have put into meetings, work sessions, and full-day facility studies. While I know not everyone will agree with every decision made in regard to a new high school, I can say without a doubt that every individual on the Board truly cares about the children within Barnwell County. 

It is my hope that, no matter what decisions are made in regard to a new high school and career center, that we do not let the different views regarding a countywide high school overshadow the great work and collaboration that have been happening thus far and will continue to happen within our schools. The path to consolidating our high schools and career center is not easy, but the rewards will be significant. 

The work of our countywide staff members inspires me for the future. Education is truly a work of the heart, and everyone who sees it as their calling believes in its transformative power. We must believe in the future and support each other as we move forward. It is my hope that we channel the passion we had for BCCSD, BSD45, and the Barnwell County Career Center into building and embracing Barnwell County School District. 

Looking forward to a strong and successful future together, 

Dr. Crissie Stapleton, Superintendent

Barnwell County School District