The mission of a newly formed Mount Pleasant committee tasked with advocating the needs of the town's schools is clear - to focus on getting new schools built.

The committee, in its first meeting on Wednesday, unanimously approved its mission to "review and evaluate capital and programmatic needs of all Mount Pleasant schools."

"I am laser beam-focused on bricks and mortar," said Town Councilman Chris Nickels.

The goal of the committee is to help generate momentum as the school district pushes to hold a referendum in November to extend a 1 percent sales tax dedicated to capital needs. Town officials hope to draw attention to Mount Pleasant's increasingly crowded schools and push new schools there to the top of the school district's building program.

Voters approved a 1 percent, six-year sales tax increase in 2010. The Legislature must pass a bill allowing a referendum this year to extend the sales tax. Otherwise the school district can't hold a referendum until the tax expires in 2016. Last week the House passed a bill allowing for the referendum this year, but the Senate still has to take up the issue.

The panel is a revitalization of a previous town committee in 2004 that also sought to evaluate school facilities for the town. The new committee is made up of five members, including Nickels as well as council members Paul Gawrych and Thomasena Stokes-Marshall. Rebecca Imholz, who co-chaired the previous committee, and Kate Darby are also members.

Darby, who chairs a school district working group committee evaluating high school and middle school needs in Mount Pleasant, said that committee feels a second high school will be needed by 2019. A separate school district committee is evaluating the need for a new elementary school, Darby said.

The new committee will provide recommendations to Town Council, which will then approve a set of recommendations for the school district.

Reach Amanda Kerr at 937-5546 or at