NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County School Board members will meet Thursday afternoon for a special meeting to vote on where the new North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies will be located.
The new school has been in the works since 2014 when voters in Charleston County approved a referendum to see centers built in North Charleston and West Ashley. Voters approved a similar measure years before in order to build a center for advanced studies out near Wando High School.
The process for the North Charleston location has been slow moving though. The vote was delayed several times since March of this year to gain more community input.
Over the last few years, board members have been looking at sites on the North Charleston High School campus, R.B. Stall High School campus, and at Garrett Academy of Technology.
Documents from a CCSD board of trustee meeting in September lays out concerns and comments from citizens gathered during the summer public hearings on the matter.
At one point, citizens looked at keeping Garrett Academy and North Charleston High School "as-is". It was noted those schools have fewer course-taking options than students at Stall, due to the student body.
The document states Stall offers 98 different courses whereas Garrett Academy and NCHS can only offer 75 to 78 different courses respectively. A recommendation was made to combine the two schools.
Overall, that recommendation from the September 25 meeting was to convert Garrett Academy with the new North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies and construct it on the NCHS campus.
According to school board member Cindy Bohn Coats, there are roughly 40 of these "stand-alone career centers" throughout the state.
Students would still attend their regular "home" school, while leaving at some point in the day to take part in specialized programs at these advanced center schools.
Garrett Academy is a county-wide magnet technology school, which requires students to spend full days at that school.
During the public meetings, some people in the community were concerned about what would happen to Garrett Academy.
The North Charleston CAS Advisory Committee put together to tackle this issue of the location, and was made up of three CCSD board members who oversee the North Charleston area, Cindy Bohn Coats, Chris Collins, and Kevin Hollinshead. Each were able to pick nine people to fill the committee.
Bohn Coats said a committee meeting was held Wednesday night, and it was still full of debate as to where the location should be.
Bohn Coats believes the North Charleston CAS may be better suited for the North Charleston campus.
"It's going to be a close vote," said Kevin Hollinshead Thursday afternoon. "It's a compelling issue, good reasons on both sides… Most of the people who were there last night feel it should stay at Garrett."
Messages left for Chris Collins were not immediately returned.
The school is scheduled to be built by 2020 to handle the upcoming eighth graders.
The special board meeting to take a vote on the location of the new school is scheduled for 4 p.m. at 75 Calhoun Street.