Rural Lowcountry Leadership Charter School finds building, makes plans to open for 2013-14 school year
HOLLYWOOD — A rural charter school slated to open next fall has overcome perhaps the biggest hurdle it will face — finding a building.
How to apply
Lowcountry Leadership Charter will open in August 2013 to any South Carolina student who can find transportation to get there.
The charter school is accepting applications for kindergarten through ninth-grade students until Dec. 15. Additional high school grades will be added in the future.
Parents can get an application by calling 843-889-5527 or going to www.lowcountryleadershipcharterschool.org. They also can pick up applications at its temporary office, 6261 Hwy. 162, Hollywood, which is open on Mondays from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Parents who completed letters of interest still need to complete an application to secure a space for their child.
Lowcountry Leadership Charter plans to open its doors to 400 students in the space occupied by St. Paul’s Academy this year. The private school that serves preschool through eighth-graders will shut down at the end of this school year, and the new charter school will renovate, demolish and rebuild pieces of the existing campus to fit its needs.
“If we don’t have a building for kids to go to, you can’t have the school,” said Dee Crawford, who chairs the charter school’s board. “This is a huge piece of the puzzle, and the community is excited.”
Multiple efforts to reach the principal and the board chair of St. Paul’s Academy were unsuccessful.
Lowcountry Leadership Charter officials had approached Charleston County school leaders about using the former R.D. Schroder Middle campus, but they said those talks weren’t moving fast enough for its August 2013 scheduled opening.
They looked at alternatives, and they learned about a Utah-based company, HighMark School Development, that builds exclusively for charter schools. South Carolina charter schools don’t receive funding dedicated for facilities, so HighMark signed a contract with St. Paul’s Academy to buy the building.
HighMark and another investor will provide the money needed to renovate and build the new school, and the charter school will pay interest and buy it from them over time, Crawford said. Once students are enrolled, the charter school will have enough money to do that, she said.
The construction should be finished by the school’s opening. School leaders still are deciding on the extent of the work that will be completed, and Crawford declined to give a cost estimate until those decisions had been made.
The school’s mission is to develop student leaders through a project-based learning approach, and that involves inquiry- based learning or students figuring out the solution to a problem or question.
The school is accepting applications until Dec. 15, and officials say they’ve gotten a good response thus far.
Chryse Jackson is one of the charter school’s board members, and she has two school-age children she plans to enroll for next fall. She said parents in rural communities deserve the same kinds of choices as those in more populated areas.
“It’s an opportunity for our kids to attend a neighborhood school in their home community,” she said. “We’re working to not only give our kids (that option), but to give that to the community for years and years to come.”
Any South Carolina student will be eligible to attend because the school’s charter comes from the statewide district.