CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is investing more than $27 million dollars for construction projects at James Island Charter High School.
It’s all planned over the next two years and will includes a bus parking lot, building expansion, gymnasium and new athletic field.
Construction will start next year on a 30,000 square-foot Career Technology building and a competition gym. Those total a $22 million investment.
The $5 million bus lot will be constructed on the site of the current practice athletic field.
A new practice field will be built at the back of the property and will be twice the size of the current one.
Some neighbors have expressed concerns about the bus lot, worried about the traffic and noise with buses in and out.
“We did a traffic impact analysis,” said Reggie McNeil, CCSD’s Executive Director of Capital Programs. “The executive summary [of that analysis] stated there will be no causes for us to add any traffic devices to control traffic here. We’re not really impacting what’s already on the roads on James Island.”
Thirteen buses currently park at James Island Charter High every day. The new lot will hold up to 36 buses, but the district plans to park 23 buses there at this point.
CCSD says buses are currently coming from five different places - including North Charleston and Johns Island – to pick up James Island High students each morning.
As a result, Principal Timothy Thorn said the students are frequently late.
“Students are sometimes having to wait at bus stops 30 to 50 minutes," he said. “They’re supposed to be here around 8:15, 8:20, but getting here at 9 a.m. sometimes. That means they would have been there when it’s 40 degrees outside and dark, waiting at bus stops.”
He said the new lot will dramatically reduce travel time and traffic for drivers and help students arrive on time.
Thorn said a central bus lot will also save tax dollars.
“My overall budget is $600,000 for busing per year," Thorn said. "So that means from $600,000 to $400,000 of savings at least. If we share buses [for elementary school routes] it goes down even more with CCSD.”
“What we could do with that money every year for our kids, funneled toward teaching and learning versus an operational cost, is incredible,” Thorn said.
Bus lot construction will start in the next few months and is supposed to finish up by December 2020.
Construction on the CTE building and gym will begin in 2020 and wrap up in 2021.
CCSD is hosting community drop in meetings at the school over the next two weeks for anyone who’d like to come by and ask questions or see the site plans:
- Dec 9 through Dec. 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Dec. 17 through Dec. 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“Obviously we have to do what’s best for this neighborhood and community, make sure it’s right by them," Thorn said. "I think if we work together that will definitely happen.”