School district leaders move forward with idea to house charter school at Burke High

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board voted Monday to move forward with discussions of bringing Allegro Charter School of Music to Burke High School's campus.

The vote followed a presentation by Burke and Allegro staff focused on the perks of moving Allegro students to Burke's campus on President and Fishburne Streets.

According to school leaders, the partnership would allow both schools' students to benefit from cross-programming and additional resources.

"My goal is to ensure that every student at Burke High School graduates with a world class education," Burke High School Principal Cheryl Swinton said. "It provides more opportunities for our students to take classes that are exclusive to Allegro and also, for Allegro to receive courses and content that we offer such as our AP Academy."

Allegro opened its doors in 2015 on Broad Street in downtown Charleston and currently teaches students in grades six through ten with a concentrated focus on music.

Allegro leaders said they're continuing to add grades and running out of space.

Sharing a campus with Burke High School on President and Fishburne streets would mean more access to the arts for Burke students while simultaneously providing Allegro students with a new location, more AP classes and access to extracurricular activities like sports.
"We're willing to say, this something worthwhile for our children. We're not afraid of hard work. We're going to buckle down and do it," Allegro's Principal Daniel Neikirk said Monday. "We could be the role model setting up an example that no one in the nation has tried to succeed with because frankly they're intimidated by it."
The board voted 7-2 Monday to move forward with a memorandum of understanding from Burke and Allegro staff, which would define the parameters of the proposed partnership. A community meeting will also be required prior to the board evaluating the terms of the proposed agreement at its April 24 meeting.

Board members Rev. Chris Collins, Michael Miller and Kevin Hollinshead voiced concerns during the presentation over bringing the charter school on board. According to Hollinshead, community sentiment is that "Allegro is going to take Burke over completely." Collins and Miller were the two dissenting votes Monday.

"I need to make sure that my folks in my neighborhood are protected, that we don't sell our people out," Hollinshead said, "That this is in the best interest of what's best for them."
Burke currently has 327 students at the downtown location while the campus can hold more than one thousand students. Within its current charter, Allegro is allowed a maximum of 350 students.

"Both of them are their own entities," Swinton said. "What we see is we can take the best of both of them and incorporate a beautiful partnership that will ensure the best education for all students."

Academic Magnet also started at Burke High School in 1988 before later re-locating. 
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