CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board took early steps on Monday to implement changes across the district.
The board voted to direct district staff to expand mental health counselors throughout the district, arrange for cultural staff to receive cultural competence training, and gather recommendations for the future of school choice.
When it comes to school choice, the board voted to have staff work on recommendations relating to magnet/choice schools by October 2019.
The board heard from Mission Critical Action Groups, community groups that were facilitated by a board appointed citizen, and district officials about the possibility of removing school choice from the district altogether.
“Unless there are limits placed on other number of seats and slots reserved for children in those neighborhoods who qualify magnet and partial magnet schools will undermine any reform efforts we try to make,” D20 facilitator Darren Goss said. “As we looked at it, it’s incredibly counterproductive to have super large schools while other schools are dying because of the head count.”
That choice school debate was focused on Buist Academy.
The recommendations from both the community and the district talked about the expansion of Buist Academy.
The Mission Critical Action Group for District 20 recommended Buist combine with Memminger Elementary, another elementary school on the peninsula.
“They’re talking about merging a performing school with an underperforming school how could children scoring in the 28th percentile be expected to keep up with children in the 96th percentile, it fails both schools,” Ashley Wright said. Wright has two kids in Buist Academy.
A handful of Buist parents got in front of the board expressing their concern with joining the two schools together.
The District 20 Mission Critical Action Group facilitator said limits need to be put in place.
“Unless there are limits placed on other number of seats and slots reserved for children in those neighborhoods who qualify magnet and partial magnet schools will undermine any reform efforts we try to make,” Darren Goss said. “As we looked at it, it’s incredibly counterproductive to have super large schools while other schools are dying because of the head count.”
The board also heard dozens of other recommendations relating to North Charleston, downtown Charleston, West Ashley, Johns and Wadmalaw Islands.
Other recommendations from the mission critical groups include closing Charleston Progressive Academy, add specialized programs to Burke, provide racial training, combine middle schools in West Ashley, and redesign early education.
The district simultaneously worked on developing goals and directives that were also presented to the board today. Those include working to address problems created by school choice and redesigning early childhood education.
The board voted also voted today to arrange cultural competence training for all personnel by August 2020.
The board previously allocated $5 million dollars to implement some of these changes in this year’s budget.
That decision has to be made by the end of august.
There was also opposition from parents on the timing of Mondays meeting, with some people saying most parents wouldn’t be able to attend at 8:30 a.m.