Renovations to begin soon at former North Charleston elementary school

VIDEO: Renovations to begin soon at former North Charleston elementary school

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - New plans are in the works for the former Chicora Elementary School in North Charleston.

A new partnership will bring students from the Allegro Charter School of Music to the new space in 2021.

Currently, the 200 students and staff at Allegro operate out of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in downtown Charleston. The school has been open for about five years and students have never had their own place to perform.

The new school will be almost twice the size and will include its own auditorium.

A community development organization called Metanoia has been working to renovate the space to help improve the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood. Metanoia’s CEO, Bill Stanfield, said he’s looking forward to the opportunities this school will bring.

“They have a lot of students already from North Charleston,” said Stanfield. “It also creates a positive option for people in this community as well. It’s walkabout for middle and high school students to go to school here.”

He also hopes that the students at Allegro can give back to the community.

“Having entertainment here they might offer to the neighborhood is another thing we’re excited about,” he added.

The principal of Allegro Charter School of Music, Daniel Neikirk, said about 40 percent of current students live in North Charleston and the school is closer to about 90 percent of the students than the downtown location. Neikirk said students and teachers are crammed in the current building.

“[Students] cannot wait to have a new building. We have had so many students asking for years about, ‘When we can get a new building?’ One thing they’ve all been wishing for is an auditorium so we’re excited for this space. We cannot wait to have an area where students can drive and park at school instead of parking downtown," Neikirk said.

A few years ago, Neikirk had to remove all the staff’s offices to make room for another classroom. There are a little over 200 students currently at the school and the building only fits 150 comfortably.

“We're excited to have space to teach, and grow and serve our students,” he added.

Light demolition is expected to start on the new project in a few weeks. Stanfield said construction should take about a year and they hope to move students into the new school in 2021. The school will also include an early childhood development center for children 0-4 years old. The estimated cost of the renovation is $20 million.

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