There is a shakeup taking place in Ware Shoals. No, not another earthquake. This shakeup is good and has to do with the reconfiguration of School District 51’s grade structure.
Last week, the school board gave its OK to the administration’s restructuring plan in which the primary school will house K4-grade four, the elementary school will house grades five-eight and grades nine-12 will be housed in the high school.
While this is not a monumental move, it is significant. And it might draw some criticism, especially from people generally opposed to change and prefer the status quo. However, the reasoning behind the changes as shared by superintendent Fay Sprouse is sound and made with the type of care and concern typically exhibited by Sprouse.
As was noted recently when the three Greenwood school districts made budget presentations to Greenwood County Council, the Ware Shoals district continually struggles with dwindling resources, and rather than seek a meager tax increase that adversely affects the residents of Ware Shoals and does little to appreciably impact the district’s overall budget, Sprouse and her administrative team seek ways to hold down costs. Reconfiguring the distribution of grades among the schools is but another way of doing just that.

Sprouse said the reconfiguration, which will take effect during the next school year, will result in the elimination of some positions, such as a guidance counselor and assistant principal, it will allow the district to again have a media specialist. Additionally, physical resources will be put to more efficient use under this plan as freshman academy will be housed in what was a separate building serving seventh- and eighth-graders.
A driving force behind the changes is decreasing enrollment within the district. Fewer students at the primary and elementary schools created space for the additional grade levels being added at each school.
Sprouse’s realignment is not merely driven by economics, either. She said research supports the new configuration as being beneficial to the students. The structure makes for easier collaboration among teachers, she said, while citing research that reflects the configuration resulted in greater academic success and higher graduation rates. And in a state where graduation rates have often been abysmal, that is good news.
Sprouse consistently proved herself as a leader in the Ware Shoals district. No doubt she could have moved on to a bigger district and earned a bigger paycheck. Maybe one day she will do that, but no one can deny Sprouse’s dedication to her job and to the district. In times of struggles and despair, she has continued to lead with strength and determination to make the best of the situation. She does not have the biggest, best and newest buildings to house her students, but Sprouse has certainly done her level best to ensure the students are as well equipped as can be, that their teachers are doing the best they can to teach and that graduates of the Ware Shoals district can be proud of their alma mater.