MOUNT PLEASANT - With its nearly 4,000 students, Wando High School won't be the only game in this booming community anymore if town officials get their way.
A special committee appointed by Mayor Linda Page released recommendations Monday calling for a second Mount Pleasant high school and a regional football stadium, along with a new elementary school in the large Carolina Park subdivision being built in the northern end of town.
The report, which the committee adopted unanimously, goes to Town Council on July 8. Town officials then will meet with Charleston County School Board members to press their case for easing crowding at the town's schools.
"We are going to sit down with them and explain the needs - and the needs are very great," committee Chairman Paul Gawrych said. "We know what is coming, and we want to stay ahead of the curve."
Three key recommendations, described as "imperative in addressing dire needs," would fit into the district's six-year capital projects plan:
A new 900-student Carolina Park Elementary able to expand to 1,200. The school district owns 20 acres for a school there.
A new Mount Pleasant high school for 1,500 to 2,000 students on the old Wando campus, now called Wando South. The old Wando building would be razed and a new building constructed. Today, Wando High alone serves all of the town's nearly 75,000 residents.
A new regional Wando football stadium would be centrally located in the town. Several town officials said they hope the school district would look at partnering with the town or private entities to build a larger stadium, perhaps up to 15,000 or 20,000 seats, to attract a wide range of events.
The current football stadium on the old Wando campus would be torn down to provide more space.
Meanwhile, in the longer term, Mount Pleasant officials will push the school district to purchase land for a fourth middle school, renovate a building for a new elementary school and renovate a building to house East Cooper Montessori.
To pay for the building projects, Charleston County voters in November would need to approve an extension to a 1-percent, six-year sales tax originally passed in 2010 for countywide capital school needs.
Mount Pleasant voters tend to be active at the polls. So if the district wants to pass the sales tax increase, they will need Mount Pleasant voters' support, town officials said.
Wando, Moultrie Middle, Cario Middle, Laurel Hill Primary and Pinckney Elementary will have enrollments that exceed 100 percent of their building capacities this year or next. Mount Pleasant Academy, Whitesides Elementary and Belle Hall Elementary will hit 90 to 100 percent capacity, the report says. At the same time, about 5,000 new residential units are in the works around Mount Pleasant.
Councilman Ken Glasson asked what will happen if Mount Pleasant's needs are not addressed by the school district or if promises made before the referendum are not kept.
"We are not going to have any more hiccups," Gawrych said. "I know myself and several others are going to be relentless and see this through."
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.
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