The Lowcountry's first regional charter school for gifted and talented students took another step forward in its effort to open in the fall of next year.

The program proposed by Palmetto Scholars Academy earned the state Charter School Advisory Committee's approval on Tuesday, enabling the prospective charter school to proceed to the South Carolina Public Charter School District for permission to open.

"We are so ecstatic," said Stacey Lindbergh, a parent of two gifted students who is spearheading the effort to create the school.

"Ecstatic is not an overemphasis on how you feel. We mean it when we say it. (The approval process) is definitely arduous, but rightfully so because you don't want public funds and kids' lives going into a half-baked concept."

Palmetto Scholars Academy will be the first regional school for the tri-county area, which means students who live in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties will be able to attend the school, which would serve sixth- through eighth-grade students and would expand to serve high school students.

Its curriculum will be geared toward academically advanced students, but being gifted will not be a requirement for admission to the school. It will be the first charter school designed for this type of student in the state.

The state charter committee had asked the school to rework its goals and objectives to make them more specific and measurable, and the school followed those instructions, said Joel Medley, the state education department official who oversees charter schools.

The state Public Charter School District has 30 days to decide whether to give the school permission to open. Charter schools approved through the statewide district do not receive local money.

Lindbergh said she is concerned about receiving less money than charter schools approved by local school boards.

She plans to pursue grants, and she's organizing parents to advocate for improved funding.

The school hasn't found a building, but organizers are looking at a number of sites and hope to locate in an affordable space near an interstate.

For more information about the school, go to palmettoscholarsacademy.org.