CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - West Ashley is the fastest growing area in the city of Charleston but its middle schools are suffering from low enrollment.
Sunday parents got their first glimpse at how the school district will merge two schools hoping to make West Ashley more appealing.
"Schools are supported by their community," said Charleston County School Board member Michael Miller.
The Charleston County School District is merging West Ashley and St. Andrews Middle to beef up academic programs.
Miller said, "We did a good job in our elementary schools in that department but in our middle schools, not so much."
Miller says their goal is more choices.
District leaders met with a room full of parents at West Ashley Middle. They all wanted to know about the new advanced studies magnet program only available to sixth-grade students next year.
Interim Principal Paul Padron said, "The kids in this program will take algebra in seventh-grade, geometry in eight-grade."
That's about a grade level ahead. Padron says he's hoping to start with 50 kids in the magnet program.
"They take those high school credit courses a little bit earlier than the honors or the traditional and that's in the hopes that they're prepared to go to high school and take some higher level AP classes in high school," said Padron.
The merger will take student enrollment from 300 to 600. Padron says kids who aren't in the magnet program won't be left out.
"There's something for everybody," said Padron.
West Ashley High School principal Mary Runyon said, "It will be an absolutely incredible pipeline."
Runyon will be working closely on the merge in her new role next year as the Director of Curriculum for schools in West Ashley.
"These students will be so far advanced in terms as progressing towards graduation," said Runyon.
District leaders are banking on the success of this merger as West Ashley expands at a rapid pace.
"West Ashley is a great community, great neighborhood and we feel that we can offer the same things here," said Padron.
Each year a grade level will be added to the magnet program. The next open house is for sixth to eighth graders in honors and traditional courses. It'll be Sunday May 4th from 4pm to 6pm at West Ashley Middle.