Final community meeting for possible JI middle schools merging

VIDEO: Final community meeting for possible JI middle schools merging
Photo Source: WCSC
Photo Source: WCSC
Photo Source: WCSC
Photo Source: WCSC
Photo Source: CCSD
Photo Source: CCSD

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Parents of James Island middle school students and those in the town will have another chance to voice their concerns about the possibility of merging the two island schools.

The fourth and final community meeting will take place at James Island Elementary School tomorrow night from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The meetings are hosted by District 3 Board of Trustees, a part of the Charleston County School District, but members said it's being driven by the community.

In November voters approved a referendum to build a brand new middle school on the island.

Since that time a task force made up of school employees, and parents was created to start planning.

In past meetings some parents have voiced concerns over class sizes, traffic issues, the location of a new school, and how it's going to impact the kids if a merge were to happen.

Surveys have been handed out at the meetings to help the task force decide on what the next steps will be.

Rhonda Walters, Chair of the Constituent District 3 Board of Trustees, said plans are not concrete at this point. These meetings are simply meant to get an idea of what people in the area think.

Walters said ultimately James Island will be getting a brand new middle school.

A Capital Program Master Plan on the Charleston County School District website shows a recommended 2010-2015 building program for the district. Among the six-year building objectives is (3-1: Ft. Johnson Middle School) to construct a new "consolidated District 3 1,200 student middle school on the athletic fields behind the existing school."

Walters said there's roughly 320 students that attend James Island Middle School and nearly 550 that go to Ft. Johnson Middle School.

The Master Plan also charted enrollment trends against the school's current capacity limits. The plan shows both schools holding a capacity of 509 students. Projected enrollment for 2015 shows Ft. Johnson with 574 students, and James Island at 404. The chart also states that in 2015 Ft. Johnson would be 111% and above capacity.

Walters said while James Island doesn't have room for massive expansion, which could entail community complexes, the new school would be a way to prepare for future generations.

The board's goal is to give all of these students the best educational experience on the island under one roof.

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