CCSD votes to remove three grade levels from Buist, approve other sweeping changes

Updated: Dec. 16, 2019 at 7:18 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District board approved broad-sweeping changes during its Monday meeting that will affect almost a dozen schools.

Buist Academy in downtown Charleston will now phase out kindergarten, first, and second grades by the 2023-2024 school year. All current students in those grade levels will be grandfathered in, but no new students in those grades will be able to attend.

The broad-sweeping changes, listed below, needed two votes to become official. Both of which happened on Monday.

  1. Make James B. Edwards a Mount Pleasant constituent magnet, Jerry Zucker a North Charleston constituent magnet, and Mitchell a downtown Charleston constituent magnet: Approved
  2. Make Haut Gap Middle School an advanced studies constituent magnet open to all eligible Johns and James’ Island students. Eligible Johns Island students will receive seating priority: Approved
  3. Make Sullivan’s Island a Mount Pleasant constituent magnet: Approved
  4. Make St. Andrew’s School of Math and Science a West Ashley constituent magnet: Approved
  5. Create a K-2 advanced academic program at Memminger. Additional kindergarten students will phase in next school year. Those students will then go to Buist for third grade if they meet eligibility criteria: Approved
  6. Change Buist Academy to a school for only third to eighth graders and revise the eligibility and selection process. This will be in full effect by the school year 2023-2024. This means next school year, rising first graders and second graders will go to Memminger, and third through sixth grades will be expanded by one class per grade: Approved
  7. Grandfather in all students affected by these changes. This means any students impacted by these actions can stay in their school until they age out: Approved

Magnet schools are some of the highest caliber in the county, and the district will now limit admission to those schools to students who primarily live in the constituent area. The district’s goal is to open up spots for students in surrounding neighborhoods to diversify magnet schools.

These votes come just days after state lawmakers voted unanimously to formally ask the Charleston County School District to slow down. School board chairman Eric Mack said on Friday that the school board will bring up that request at Monday’s meeting, but it was not mentioned before the votes.

Other changes were approved last month. Those are listed below.

  1. Transition Mary Ford Elementary into an early education center and rezone all of those students Chicora Elementary: Approved
  2. Combine Lambs, Hunley Park and Goodwin elementary schools on to one campus at Lambs and create a universal 4K and 5K preschool and family engagement center at either Hunley Park or Goodwin: Approved
  3. Remove fifth-graders from Haut Gap Middle School and make it for sixth to eighth graders only: Approved
  4. Categorize 15 of the district’s lowest-performing schools as “acceleration schools:" Approved
  5. Close Minnie Hughes Elementary School and rezone all those students to E. B. Ellington: This item was removed from the agenda. The district and board will meet to discuss what happens next.
  6. Create an advanced academic program at West Ashley High School: Approved
  7. Consolidate two district 10 middle schools, so sixth graders would attend West Ashley Middle School and seventh and eighth graders would attend C.E. Williams Middle School: Approved
  8. Study the feasibility of creating one Montessori Middle School to house seventh and eighth-grade students from Murray LaSaine, James Simons, Hursey, and Montessori Community schools for 2020-2021: Approved
  9. Build a new Ladson elementary school at Ingleside and convert the current Ladson Elementary into a universal 4K and 5K preschool and family engagement center: Approved
  10. Create a new Johns Island elementary school, location to be decided: Approved

The next board meeting is set for Jan. 13, 2020.

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