Buist Academy, one of the most in-demand magnet schools in Charleston County, will accept more students for the 2013-14 school year.
This appears to be the first time since the school opened downtown in 1985 that it will accept more than 410 students. The school’s enrollment has been limited in part by its building, which couldn’t accommodate more students.
“Buist Academy is an amazing school, and I think so many families would love to take advantage of it,” said Cindy Linhart, who has four children attending the high-achieving school. “It’s going to give more kids an opportunity to come in ... and I think it’s wonderful.”
The school district is rebuilding Buist Academy because it had seismic deficiencies, and the new structure is designed for 500 students. The building will be ready by fall 2013.
Nearly 2,500 students are on the K-8 magnet school’s waiting lists. District officials asked the county school board Monday night to bump up the school’s enrollment by 70 students for a total of 480, 20 shy of the 500 limit.
The change means K-3 classes that had been capped at 20 students would grow to 25, which officials said was average in the district.
Fourth- through eighth-grade classes would increase by three students each to 28 students per class, which is below the maximum of 30 per class.
County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said the demand for Buist Academy has been strong, and she is confident that the class-size increases won’t diminish the program’s quality. That was one concern for some county school board members.
“Their record of excellence is long-standing, and we have 30-plus-student classrooms at other schools rated ‘excellent’ that accept any child, not just those who test in,” she said.
Buist Academy accepts students from across the county, and its admissions criteria won’t change.
The kindergarten class, which typically has 40 students, now will have 50; more than 200 incoming kindergartners typically apply for those seats.
The school has accepted 10 kindergartners from four lists, and that will be increased to 12 students per list, except for downtown, which will have 14 spots. The other three lists are county residents, those zoned to attend a low-performing school, and those with a sibling at the school.
Some school board members wanted to know whether the school had a good process to verify students’ addresses and why other schools couldn’t have smaller class sizes. The board agreed unanimously to grow the school and give it one additional teacher for the 2013-14 school year; member Elizabeth Moffly was absent.
Buist Principal Shawntay White said the change will be a positive one that gives more students the chance to be a part of the school. Teachers were looking forward to having more students to inspire and to create more caring citizens, she said.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.