CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Students in Charleston County got up early on Wednesday for their first day of the 2019-2020 school year.
This year, three new schools are opening their doors.
STONO PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL:
The new state-of-the-art building is a two-story facility that sits on the original five-acre site and is designed to seat 500 students in grades K-5.
The project was funded by a "Yes" vote of the Charleston County Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax Referendum of 2010.
Charleston County School District officials said the new 75,000 square foot elementary school has the resources so kids can do more online learning, there's adequate space to meet all of the students' needs, and new technology to boost up the instruction. The facility also includes two new outdoor play areas.
"What we want our families and students to know most is how our staff really cares,” Kimberly Riggins, Stono Park’s Principal, said. “We've been back, our teachers have been back, for over two weeks preparing. They've been doing their lesson plans, they've been getting their classrooms ready. We are really ready to welcome the students back into a safe and caring environment where we're going to challenge them academically, socially and emotionally. It's going to be the best year ever for the Stono Park Dolphins."
The construction team worked in tandem with local and state agencies to open the school on time and within the approved budget of $27.3 million.
MATILDA F. DUNSTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL:
This year the school will house K through 4th grade. Next year, those 4th graders will be the first 5th graders of the school.
The project was funded by a "Yes" vote of the Charleston County Education Sales and Use Tax Referendum of 2014.
The new state-of-the-art 77,434 square foot building is a two-story facility that sits on a six-acre site.
CCSD officials said this was one of the most challenging projects because a good portion of the construction happened while school was still in session in the old building – which was on the same campus.
"The teachers are so excited,” Cheryl Savage, Dunston’s Principal, said. “When they walk in the door they're just like 'oh my gosh! Look at this!’ I mean we are seeing it through the eyes of the children. We can't wait for them to see it."
The project cost $29.6 million. The final phase is to build the permanent bus loop which is scheduled to be finished in December.
EDMUND A. BURNS/MEETING STREET @ BURNS:
This $28.3 million facility will house two schools – Edmund A. Burns Elementary and Meeting Street @ Burns. Both schools cater to serving the Dorchester-Waylan Community.
The project was funded by a "Yes" vote of the Charleston Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax Referendum of 2014.
The new, state-of-the-art building is a two-story 72,000 square foot facility that sits on the original 11-acre site and is designed to seat 500 students in grades K-5.
Those with the schools are excited for programs that will continue but also for the students to experience the "newness" of the facility.
"I am excited that we get to keep our chess program which has been very positive for our students,” Sidonye Coaxum, a teacher at Burns Elementary, said. “They've been able to participate in chess tournaments so that's still something we have to offer our students."
"We just recently had one of our third graders come over just to sit in the furniture to make sure that it was a good fit for a third grade body and he was just grinning from ear to ear and just really wide eyes and so grateful,” Tara Warring, with Meeting Street @ Burns, said.
Those with the Capital Programs team worked in tandem with local and state agencies to make sure the building was ready for students.
While kids and teachers are excited for the school year to start, there are still some teaching positions that need to be filled. The district has about 2,500 teachers and teacher assistants. Officials said 425 of those are new this year.
As of Tuesday, the district still had 14 teaching positions vacant. The majority of those positions are in special education. Officials say there are a number of ways they will be filling those positions in the meantime, so there won’t be a classroom without a teacher.
In regards to bus drivers, at last check with Durham School Services, about a dozen drivers are still needed before Durham reaches what they classify as fully staffed. Some 22,000 CCSD students ride the bus every day which requires about 370 buses to be on the road.