HICKS COLUMN: Lowcountry Tech stays where it is
Ten or 15 years ago, you couldn't pay most people to walk into the former Rivers Middle School building.
It was run-down, decrepit, dark and depressing — a shadow of its former self.
Now folks are fighting over it like it's the last piece of beachfront property in Charleston County ... even though that's actually Sullivan's Island Elementary.
Bottom line here, both sides just need to chill out.
The Charleston Charter School for Math and Science is currently using the Rivers campus, and is slated to move into 60 percent of the renovated building in January.
But the charter program — which has proven popular and successful — now wants the whole school to itself.
Trouble is, back when the charter school negotiated for its space, folks were told the Charleston County School District's Lowcountry Tech program would occupy 40 percent of the building.
And despite hardcore lobbying, the district and the school board aren't budging.
And they shouldn't.
People need to learn that sometimes no means no.
This fight has gotten entirely too ugly and too racial.
We've had enough of that.
Fact is, the School for Math and Science is an integrated school — half its enrollment is minority students. It's a good program, and the people there are trying to offer a quality education to students on and off the peninsula.
The Charter School is just looking out for itself. It is currently operating out of an entire trailer park of mobile classrooms, and that renovated Rivers building is an attractive alternative.
But there are many schools in this district that have to use mobile classrooms. If Math and Science still has to use theirs, well, they are just like Wando High or St. Andrews School of Math and Science. That's the price of progress.
The charter folks have to understand that if the district reneged on its original deal, it would send a horrible message. It would say that promises made to the black community aren't worth keeping.
And sticking Lowcountry Tech over at Burke, even though the school has room, should not even be a consideration.
Talk about racial implications.
The folks on the other side of the issue are not without fault.
They have been a little too quick to cry racism. The Math and Science people aren't being racists, just greedy.
And both sides have taken offense at every turn. Last week, the Citizens United for Public Schools even criticized the news coverage of this issue as being slanted. Which is baloney.
Most people, frankly, are sick of hearing about this.
This is a disturbing trend in school politics. People on the losing side — and there's always a losing side — increasingly refuse to accept reality.
On Wednesday, the school board's majority indicated they aren't going to change the plans. Lowcountry Tech is going into the Rivers building, and Math and Science will share space with it.
Deal with it.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.