Mount Pleasant residents can rest easy after the Charleston County School Board finalized Monday a list of core school construction projects that included a second high school and a new football stadium for the town.
The School Board unanimously voted to approve a core list of 21 projects totaling $428.2 million and a contingency list of 14 projects totaling $102.9 million tied to a referendum to extend a 1 percent sales tax.
The board's discussion was dominated by whether to include the design plans and construction of a new Lincon High School in McClellanville in the core or contingency lists. The board, which was only scheduled to consider the lists as information, opted to take action after hearing from several Mount Pleasant residents who urged the board to finalize the lists Monday.
"We feel good about this," said Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych who was among the speakers who wanted the board to vote Monday. "There is an established core group."
The core project list includes the design plans for Lincoln High, a new elementary school in Mount Pleasant, a new building for C.E. Williams Middle School in West Ashley and centers for advanced studies at both West Ashley and North Charleston high schools.
The contingency list includes the construction of a new Lincoln High School, a new middle school on the Burke High School campus in downtown Charleston and design plans for several new school buildings.
Several members of a Mount Pleasant committee that issued recommendations on school construction projects spoke to the board about the need to finalize the core list.
Town residents and officials have become nervous over the priority of school projects after a new Lincoln high was added at the last minute to the list.
They feared plans for a new high school for 100 students in McClellanville might delay construction of new schools in Mount Pleasant where enrollment at Wando High School is closing in on 4,000 students.
"Please remember how important it is to have transparency and communication with the public," Committee member Rebecca Imholz told the board.
"I hope we don't have something like that again."
Their fears weren't totally unfounded. The board, as part of its discussions, moved the design plans for a new Lincoln High from the contingency to the core list.
They also briefly discussed what core projects they could move to the contingency list after School Board member Elizabeth Moffly made a motion to add the construction of a new Lincoln High to the core list.
"We have football stadiums before facilities," Moffly said.
The motion ultimately failed with board members Cindy Bohn Coats, Tripp Wiles, Todd Garrett, Chris Fraser and Tom Ducker voting against the motion while Moffly along with Craig Ascue and Michael Miller voted in favor of it.
The Rev. Chris Collins declined to vote at all, saying he didn't approve of the board's decision to take action on the matters after they had been publicized on the agenda as information.
Coats said the board would set the specific order in which projects are built after Charleston County residents votes on the referendum in November.
"It gives us some flexibility," Coats said of waiting to order the projects.
"We might want to tie ourselves to the first project but we don't want to tie ourselves to the 14th project."