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Downtown community concerned with Charleston County School District decisions

Photo Source: Live 5 News Photo Source: Live 5 News
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -

Some residents in the Eastside community are upset after learning about a school board proposal that would close the middle school portion of Sanders-Clyde Creative Arts School. The school currently serves kindergarten through eighth grade. 

A retired teacher, now substitute, LaSheia Oubre was at a neighborhood meeting on Sunday where community members came together to discuss the proposed changes.

"To watch the children cry Friday was very disheartening...'where are we going to go, why are they doing this like this,why didn't I know ahead of time,'' Oubre said.

She described how students at Sanders-Clyde feel after learning their school may no longer be able to serve middle school grades.

President of the Eastside Neighborhood Association known as the Eastside Community Development Corporation, Latonya Gamble says they were notified of the changes by a district official at a Constituent Board Meeting on Wednesday. 

"I just think that CCSD needs to do a better job of informing parents, community, students all involved when changes are going to occur," Gamble said.

She says they were told the middle school students at Sanders-Clyde and Charleston Progressive Academy could be moved to Simmons-Pinckney Middle School about 7 minutes away. Documents show the district is also proposing to move five Head Start Classes from Thomas Meyer II Head Start into Sanders-Clyde.

"I just feel if they talk about school choice so much, there should be a choice," Gamble said.

In 2014 the Charleston County School Board approved the creation of the only stand alone middle school now known as Simmons-Pinckney. It was done to create a more specific middle school curriculum and to deal with growth downtown.

This school year it was optional for Sanders-Clyde students to attend Simmons-Pinckney. Some people in the Eastside community feels it will soon be forced upon them.

"Are they going to stay or are they going to move over? That was the discussion last year. They [the board] said no we haven't discussed it," Oubre said.

It's the short notice that makes them concerned and the lack of conversation surrounding the change, according to community members. 

"There are other things you have to consider," Gamble said. "The culture of the school, bringing two neighborhoods together, and does that affect the children learning... so we want to have the best outcome from both schools and all children involved."

Senator Marlon Kimpson was at the neighborhood meeting pushing along with others for more time for discussion concerning school assignments until their is more public input. 

A Charleston County School board member says they were not aware of the opposition and that the board held public meetings leading up to the creation of the stand alone middle school. 

On Monday the school board will have a meeting about the budget at 4:30 p.m.  People from the Eastside community plan to speak out about their concerns. 

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