The Charleston County School Board voted in favor of merging West Ashley Middle School and St. Andrews Middle School Monday night.
The merger of the two schools for the upcoming school year had some parents frustrated over what they say is a rushed plan. The school district has been working on the proposal to combine West Ashley and St. Andrews Middle Schools for several months. Both schools have less than 400 students enrolled.
"It has to be a thoroughly thought out plan," says Katy Kuder of St. Andrews Middle School. "We're not talking about saving buildings. We're talking about enriching student lives."
School board member Michael Miller, who represents district ten, says the plan is to combine middle schools and offer a "magnet-type" advanced studies program for 100 to 150 students. He says this will give parents another option, besides C.E. Williams Middle School, in West Ashley.
"We seem to have a little teetering off in the middle school area. That has been a weakness in district ten. The merger is an attempt to really attract the students who already are living west of the Ashley and keep them in constituent district ten."
Some say the merger is a temporary fix. They say the plan doesn't highlight the resources that will be available to the hundreds of other students who aren't enrolled in the gifted programs. However, some parents believe the merger will offer more.
"When you combine the two schools, it just gives more opportunities and more programs to all the schools," says parent Joel Britt. "I think it addresses a need. There were a lot of people leaving district 10 and seeking alternatives, whether it's a private school or a charter school or a magnet school."
"I don't want the children who maybe don't qualify for this academic magnet part of it to be left out," says parent Tamara Avery.
Others feel all the options haven't been exhausted.
"They need to correct the zoning issues, and I do believe they can accomplish that by the beginning of the school year in 2014, and then let's just take this baby steps," suggests Kuder. "I think they have to do it right the first time and do it one time."
The merger plan includes $3.4 million dollars to modify West Ashley Middle School so it can accommodate the increased enrollment. That funding will be spread over two to three years.