MOUNT PLEASANT - One of this town's biggest issues is something Town Council has little control over: the town's increasingly crowded public schools.
Mayor Linda Page is trying to change that by appointing a special committee to tackle the issue and press the Charleston County School Board for help.
The town's effort comes as the school board is expected to ask voters in November for an extension on the tax that has bankrolled a multimillion-dollar school building program.
Page appointed Councilman Paul Gawrych to chair the effort, and council members Chris Nickels and Thomasena Stokes-Marshall also will serve on the panel, which will hold its first meeting at 11 a.m. April 16.
Gawrych noted the town has had a similar committee in previous years, though it was composed of residents rather than council members.
"We have a short window and need a laser focus as we know the Charleston County School District is already working on how best to sell their bond extension for November," he said. "We are going to make sure they understand the needs of the East Cooper area with regards to public education up-front."
Gawrych said he has no preconceptions about what the committee will come up with, but there are some highly likely possibilities.
"Obviously, right up front is a new elementary school at Carolina Park. It can't be built fast enough," he said. Another project that Town Council has wanted to see is a new high school built on the site of the old Wando High. That project likely would claim the current stadium and require a new stadium to be built at the current Wando High.
He noted the school board already owns the land for both those projects, "and that puts us way ahead of everybody else."
The new town committee will advise council, which then will discuss the issue and approve a set of recommendations to the district, Page said.
Gawrych said while he understands there are school needs across the county, "everybody knows where the fastest-growing community is. Everybody knows where the most crowded schools are."
Earlier this year, the school board considered opening a new magnet school in Mount Pleasant, but the idea was postponed for a year because the district did not have the estimated $1.6 million it would cost to start up.
The new magnet school is designed to alleviate overcrowding at Laurel Hill Primary and Pinckney Elementary, two of the district's fastest growing schools.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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