Stono Park students, community speak out for new school

VIDEO: Stono Park students, community speak out for new school

A group of passionate parents and students made it clear to the Charleston County School Board that they don't want their more than 60-year-old school building patched up, they want a brand new school in West Ashley.

The board chose to postpone the vote to decide if Stono Park Elementary School would be renovated or rebuilt.

Students, parents teacher and people who live in the school's community say Stono Park is in desperate need of more than just a makeover, but an entire new start. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg came out to speak in favor of a brand new school.

"So I ask you please abandon the thought of just renovating that school and rebuild us a new school West Ashley at Stono Park Elementary," said Mayor Tecklenburg as he addressed the board.

A loud applause filled the room, followed by more than a dozen people that came out to push for a new school.

"They have a mold issue, my children could have respiratory problems because of the issues that are in the school," said a parent.

"I am here begging, asking the district to do what they committed to do," says another parent.

In 2010, voters approved a school one-cent sales tax increase to fund several school building projects. This included a $26.6 million rebuild of Stono Park. Other schools now have new buildings and many feel a renovation won't be enough.

The board was looking at a $6 million renovation of the school, and it was also looking to request an additional $3 million to get all the work done.

The elementary school students say they have to wear their coats to class in the winter because the building doesn't warm up, and it's hot during the warmer months.

"The floor is getting cracky and the walls," says one student.

"It needs to be rebuilt, it needs to be repainted," says another student.

"I don't really like how the bathrooms look and I don't really want to use the bathroom when I go to school," says a fifth-grader.

Charleston County School Board member Eric Mack says he's now in favor of a new school if it's possible.

"Do I want to send my child to a school of this condition and the answer is no," says Mack."I would want them to be in a suitable environment, so what's not good for my child is not good for other students as well."

The board has a month before it plans to make the decision.

"To try to look at why renovation may satisfy some of those needs or we may find that rebuilding the school may be in the best interest of everyone," says school board member Tom Ducker.

Second grade teacher Andrea Hamlin remains hopeful about what the board will decide.

"The time for them to consider, to pray over it, to think overnight, to think about our students, think about the messages they heard tonight" and she hopes it "will be enough to possibly let us have a rebuild," Hamlin says.

Some parents say they keep their students at the school because of the great teachers and the academic ratings the schools has received, but they say their kids deserve a better environment. The board will have a workshop to discuss plans for the school on March 14 and it will vote at the meeting on March 21.

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