Two Charleston County schools preparing for mid-summer moves to make way for new buildings
Students in two Charleston County schools have spent their last days in those classrooms, and they will return this fall to temporary sites while their schools are rebuilt.
Harbor View Elementary on James Island and St. Andrew’s School of Math and Science in West Ashley will be moved this summer to make way for new buildings. Harbor View Elementary will use the former Stiles Point Elementary School building, and St. Andrew’s will use the former Oakland Elementary School building for the next two years.
“The attitude that we’ve taken around here is, ‘It’s two years and we’re coming back into a brand-new building,” said Lara Latto, principal of Harbor View Elementary. “We can do anything for two years.”
The schools must move because they will be rebuilt in the same spots, and there’s not enough room to allow that construction work to happen with students present.
“We just don’t have the space,” said Bill Lewis, the district’s chief operations officer.
It’s not “routine” to move schools for construction, but it’s been done repeatedly in recent years. Four other downtown schools, Buist Academy, Charleston Progressive Academy, Memminger Elementary and James Simons Elementary, all have been relocated until new buildings are ready. The new schools are scheduled to be finished by the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Other relocated schools include Chicora Elementary and Sullivan’s Island Elementary.
The Harbor View and St. Andrew’s school moves will cost the district $2.6 million, which breaks down to nearly $2.1 million for St. Andrew’s and roughly $500,000 for Harbor View. Lewis said it cost about $3 million to set up the temporary campus for the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science downtown. That school serves about 420 students, and these schools serve a combined 1,300.
“It’s not inexpensive but that’s where we are,” Lewis said. “We looked at every single option.”
It’s costing more for St. Andrew’s because of the mobile units the district must lease to accommodate the school’s 760 students. So many mobile units are needed, that the front of the former Oakland school building isn’t visible from the road.
Principal Mark Shea said the school will have about the same number of students in mobile units next year as it did this year, and the only major difference will be that specific grades will be outdoors versus this year when a hodgepodge of grades used the mobile units.
“Moves are tough any which way … but it’s something that’s going to be well worth it,” he said. “We have a great staff, and they’ll get through this.”
Lewis said the district decided to lease the mobiles rather than buy them because those spaces won’t be needed at the end of this building program. Workers were busy last week installing sewer lines for the temporary classrooms, and handymen prepped the inside of the building for new SmartBoards.
The funding for the new building and temporary moves comes from the 1 percent sales-tax increase voters approved in November. The program is expected to include roughly $564.8 million worth of construction projects.
Both schools moving this summer have worked with neighboring schools to stagger start-and-dismissal schedules and to ensure traffic can move on nearby streets during those times.
Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.