Charleston Co. School Board votes NO to AIM Charter School

Charleston Co. School Board votes NO to AIM Charter School

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School Board voted against adding another charter school to the district during Monday's public hearing.

AIM Charter School was hoping to open for the 2017-2018 school year with the vision of a public charter high school dedicated to apprenticeships, internships and micro enterprise.

The group's mission includes placing students in paying apprenticeships with local businesses by their junior year and take advantage of the area's growing industries such as the hospitality, tech manufacturing and IT sectors.

District officials who analyzed AIM's proposal said the district already works with students to place them in internships with local companies.

But AIM leaders want to take the initiative one step further.

"The goal with AIM is to take what's already being done in the districts and expand it," Mark Roberts, project manager for AIM, said Monday. "The apprenticeship piece is not new but the culture we'll have at AIM will be totally different than the culture at the high schools that are currently housing some students in an apprenticeship program."

Roberts said that cultures involves providing industry mentors for students.

"It's going to be a great addition to the college readiness that's already out there and may be too heavily focused on," Roberts said. "I think the workforce readiness that AIM is going to do will be a welcome addition and will strengthen the education in the district."

AIM wants to start with 9th and 10th grade, 25 students per grade and add a grade in subsequent years. The group is looking to find a facility between the Charleston neck area and North Charleston, convenient access to local industries.

However, the board had questions about AIM's proposal, ranging from state gr ant funding to academic guidelines and contingency plans over internship placement.

"It's unfortunate the charter school didn't get approved today but the vein of it is is something I think we need to consider," board member Michael Miller said. Miller also runs a school apprenticeship program called Need to Teach.

"I believe it's our job to not only make sure high school students are academically ready but that they are career ready," Miller said. "So a school like AIM, which is designed in my opinion to create an atmosphere while they're in high school and once they finish high school to prepare them for entrepreneurship or leads them to job creation, is something the district ought to explore."
Board member Todd Garrett also commented after the vote, asking AIM leaders to "flesh out details" of the school's plan. Garret said a denial from the board did not prohibit the group from re-submitting.

Roberts said the AIM group plans to revise their application for the fall submission process.
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