Parents, teachers react to Rock Hill Schools board decision to close three schools

3 Rock Hill elementary schools closing at end of year

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -Thousands of students in Rock Hill Schools will be going to a new school soon.

The Rock Hill School Board decided to close three elementary schools within the district.

Rosewood, Belleview and Finley Road elementary schools will shut their doors at the end of the school year.

The school board says there are two reasons for it.

It will save the district $25 million.

The board says this move will help put other schools at a 75 percent to 85 percent capacity.

That reason is not enough for some parents and teachers.

Superintendent Bill Cook said this decision is two years in the making. The reason it did not happen sooner was COVID.

So what does this mean for your child?

It means that some students are going to get shifted for two reasons - either to make room or to go to a different school.

Rezoning lines have not been set yet, but when they are some people could be possibly affected.

Anyone who is will get a letter from the school.

Cook said the district will take care of every family that will have to move.

”We’re looking certainly forward to the opportunity to connect and form some new relationships, but for those who are impacted we recognize change is hard,” said Cook.

So after a year of abrupt change, more is on the way for these parents.

”My heart completely dropped,” said parent Keisha Lightner.

Lightner and her sister, Kimberly Colvin, have children who attend Finley Road.

Lightner has a kindergartner and a second-grader. Colvin has a third-grader.

Now, they feel they have been kicked out of the school they call “the best-kept secret in Rock Hill.”

”The decisions I feel like our voice don’t even matter,” said Colvin.

”Why do we have to move? Why can’t we stay at Finley Road and not do this?” asked Lightner.

The parents are not the only ones emotional over the decision.

”People drive by it and see a 60-year-old building, but I drive by it and I see a lot of community and people took pride in that school,” said Travis Bryant, who taught at Belleview for 10 years.

Building age was part of the reason the Rock Hill Schools Board voted to close Belleview, Finely Road and Rosewood.

Besides operation costs and raising low capacities, Cook says another reason is racial balance.

”The board’s primary goal was to better utilize and fully utilize our schools but it’s important to have a diverse school,” said Cook.

Cook said diversity wasn’t a deciding factor but it did help.

Cook said the district had not updated the school placement map in almost 20 years.

So he says the board’s decision allows the district to provide students closer to schools and diversity.

”Overall it’s a better balance socioeconomically and more of what Rock Hill represents,” said Cook.

None of the three with emotional ties to the schools agree it was worth closing for.

”It’s scary to me that your child could be there since 4k program and now they have to start all over again,” said Colvin.

”It’s just being pulled away from them and they have not much control over that,” said Lightner.

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