Debate continues over new Sullivan's Island Elementary

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The Town of Sullivan's Island is moving forward with plans for a new elementary school, but some residents who think the new school is too big, say they are hoping a judge will allow them to vote on the issue.

"This school is just out of proportion for our community," said Sullivan's Island resident Barbara Spell.

Spell is a member of the group Islanders for a Smaller Sullivan's Island Elementary School. She said the group doesn't agree with how large the town has decided to make the new school.

"It's not necessary to have a building this size to educate 500 kids," Spell said.

Council members said the Charleston County School District required the new school accommodate 500 children. Spell says the building doesn't need to be the proposed 74,000 square feet.

The group collected 261 signatures on a petition, asking town council to allow residents to vote on the size of the school.

At last Tuesday's town council meeting, council members decided to seek a judge's opinion on whether to grant that referendum.

"We think it would be outrageous to build a school that was smaller than what the community already has in population," Council Member Jerry Kaynard said.

Kaynard said Sullivan's Island Elementary currently has 420 students with over 130 on a waiting list. He said that means building a smaller school isn't an option.

"Education of children is the most important thing," Kaynard said. "We don't want to short change the children by cutting out necessary facilities in the school."

Kaynard said one major problem with the petition is that it requested the new school be built in the old school's footprint, and that was only 30,000 square feet.

Council Member Kaynard said it'll be up to a judge to decide if the project will be delayed and if the residents will get a referendum.

The new school is in the middle of a design phase, which could take another three to six months.

Kaynard said demolition of the old school, though, could begin in a month or two.

Sullivan's Island Elementary School was declared unsafe in the event of an earthquake.

It's temporary in the old Whitesides Elementary School building until work on the new school is finished.

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