James Island community meets to discuss possible middle schools merging

James Island community meets to discuss possible middle schools merging

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - If your kids go to James Island or Fort Johnson Middle Schools, there could be some big changes ahead. Thursday night, the community and the district met for the last time to discuss merging the schools, while a brand new middle school gets built.

Many parents at Thursday's meeting were in favor of the possible merging. They say they want a new school that could offer more programs for their children. Some have concerns about traffic and the transition period during the school's construction.

"As a parent, I always want to be involved in my school," said Melissa Ladd, a James Island Parent.

Melissa Ladd is part of the James Island Middle School Task Force. It's made up of parents, teachers and district employees.

"It's nice to be able to have a voice," said John Lighthard, a James Island Parent.

Thursday night was the task force's fourth and final meeting to discuss combining two island middle schools.

"The school is outdated," said Erica Ciucci, a Guidance Counselor at Fort Johnson Middle School.

If the task force has their way, Fort Johnson would be knocked down and the new school would be built on the same property. Voters approved a referendum in November for a new middle school on the island.

"I've been at Fort Johnson for 12 years so to be able to walk into a new facility and see children in a clean, safe and state of the art facility couldn't make me happier," said Ciucci.

Some parents concerned about the transition during construction. Kids from Fort Johnson could go to school at James Island Middle with some students going to class in trailers.

"The transition period will be hard for us all, but I definitely think it's worth it," said Sarah Baldwin, a James Island parent.

"We are going to have 6th graders in trailers for one year, and that's probably more glamorous than being in an old, outdated building," said Ciucci.

The new building would hold 1,200 students. That means more teachers and more programs for kids.

"Obviously they'll get more resources with a school that size," said Lighthard.

"Parents want their kids to have the best education, the best curriculum, and we are here to support that," said Rhonda Walters, Chair of the Constituent District 3 Board of Trustees.

Nothing is set in stone yet. The task force will give their recommendations to the superintendent. He will then pass that along to the Charleston County School Board. The new middle school is expected to be up and running by 2020.

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