Charleston County School District proposes expanded renovation for Johns Island elementary school

The Charleston County School District has proposed an expanded renovation at Angel Oak Elementary School contingent on funding to address concerns raised by parents.

Johns Island parents hoping to receive more than just a renovation for their children's aging elementary school will have to wait a little longer. A new proposal calls for additional building improvements contingent on funding.

The Charleston County School District has proposed moving forward with a $9.3 million renovation this summer at Angel Oak Elementary while also planning for an additional expansion based on the district's standard design for new elementary schools.

Funding for those extra improvements at the 38-year-old school would be contingent on excess sales tax revenue tied to the district's 2010 referendum for school construction, said Jeffrey Borowy, the school district's deputy of Capital Programs.

"At that point we would look at what other demands there are for those funds and where does this priority fall," Borowy said.

The Charleston County School Board's Audit and Finance Committee has signed off on the proposal, which will go before the full board on Monday for final approval.

The School Board tasked the district with evaluating the cost to construct a new building for Angel Oak after parents raised concerns in November about ongoing water damage in the school and what appeared to be mold and mildew in some classrooms.

A new building at the school's current size would cost $17 million. A larger school based on the district's standard plans for new elementary schools would cost $24 million.

District officials have said they can't reallocate sales tax funds for a new building for Angel Oak because of the same 2010 referendum that listed improvements at the school as a renovation. District officials also expressed concerns about raising property taxes for a single school project or depleting other revenues tied to paying off school debt.

But Angel Oak parents are leery of the possible expansion, which at least one parent feels won't come any time soon.

"We all know realistically it's just going to delay the overall development of the school," said Susan Lozier, whose son is in third grade at Angel Oak. "We're just ready to see something now."

Given the limited funding options, School Board member Eric Mack, who led the charge to investigate funding for a new school, said the district's proposal is the "best option" while staying compliant with the 2010 referendum.

"I'm satisfied with trying to help secure resources for that area," Mack said.

The issue is the district's limited plans for improving schools on Johns Island, Mack said, where new housing developments are bringing more families with children to the island.

"That's my argument for why we needed to do more than just a cosmetic overview of the building," he said.

The School Board on Monday will also consider two other building proposals; A plan to take out short-term bonds to accelerate nine school building projects tied to 2017 sales tax revenue; and a plan to delay the expansion of Lowcountry Tech Academy to high schools in West Ashley and North Charleston. The district wants to evaluate the cost to move the technology program from its location inside the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science to Burke High School in downtown Charleston.

The School Board will also vote Monday on whether to extend the contract for a diversity consultant who has been working with the district to develop a comprehensive strategy to address diversity issues.