Some Charleston County schools will be combined while others will be opened under a sweeping set of changes approved by the Charleston County School Board.
The board's actions will affect families across the county during the upcoming school year.
For more than a year, the board has been talking about restructuring schools in an effort to increase enrollment, offerings and efficiency at small schools. The board asked school community task forces to come up with suggestions, and the board mostly followed their recommendations.
"We're not the only ones who come up with good ideas," said Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats. "In the case of what was passed, the majority of the board thought those were good ideas and could be accomplished quickly and easily."
Some of the more significant decisions of Monday night's meeting were:
Signing off on an operation plan for the Meeting Street Education Group to open a new neighborhood school at the former Brentwood Middle School campus in North Charleston this fall.
Agreeing to merge West Ashley Middle and St. Andrews Middle for the 2014-15 school year. The combined school will offer an advanced-studies magnet program for students, and the district will invest $3.4 million in improvements to the merged school's building during a three-year period.
Closing C.C. Blaney Elementary at the end of this school year and redistributing its students between E.B. Ellington and Minnie Hughes elementaries for the 2014-15 school year. C.C. Blaney will be reopened as a magnet school for advanced studies in 2015. All sixth-graders in District 23 (Hollywood) will be shifted to Baptist Hill High. Jane Edwards Elementary will remain a stand-alone campus.
Frierson Elementary on Wadmalaw Island will become a technology-themed magnet school, but a decision on converting Angel Oak Elementary on Johns Island into a creative arts magnet school was delayed.
Moving sixth-graders at St. James-Santee Elementary to Lincoln High, developing STEM courses at the high school, and providing the high school a new facility contingent upon funding. It wasn't clear what the board expected to happen, such as whether a new facility would be built or renovations would be made to an existing building. It also didn't specify how much funding would be needed.
Delaying a new Mount Pleasant magnet school for advanced studies until fall 2015. The new school will use the former Whitesides Elementary School building, and a principal will be hired for the 2014-15 school year to develop its program
Approving a school calendar for 2014-15. School will begin Aug. 18, and students' last day will be June 4, 2015.
In North Charleston, the Meeting Street Education Group will run the new neighborhood school that will start with about 200 students age 3 to second grade and grow by one grade each year until it reaches fifth grade. The group has a private school downtown, Meeting Street Academy, that provides a virtually tuition-free education to mostly low-income students in exchange for parent involvement.
The group's leadership wants to show that its model - the school has an extended school day and year, and enrolls students as young as age 3 - can be successful in a traditional public, high-poverty neighborhood school.
The board also has been talking about changing six high-poverty middle schools' bus routes, which would change those schools' start and dismissal times. Students and parents at those schools don't like starting and ending the school day later than others across the district.
The board has asked for district officials to take a comprehensive look at the issue, and officials plan to return to the board with recommendations on a consultant company that would make recommendations on how the district's transportation system can be improved.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.
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