New charter school in Colleton County school expected to open in 2021

VIDEO: New charter school in Colleton County school expected to open in 2021

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A new charter school is in the works for Colleton County.

Organizers say it’s an effort to bring new options for quality education in the Walterboro area. The Colleton County School District is among the districts with some of the lowest performing schools in the state, according to the State Board of Education report card data.

If approved, The Leadership Technology Charter School is expected to open in Walterboro in August of 2021.

School coordinator Sammy Hiott says their goal is to begin with 200 students and start serving K-5 through 9th grade and then add a grade each year moving forward.

"Whenever someone comes to town to buy a home or start a business the first thing they'll ask is about the school system and the rates are not what we feel like they should be," Hiott said.

Hiott says the school will have a STEM curriculum that's hands on. That involves science, technology, engineering and math.

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently.

Organizers say they are looking for parents to serve on the board.

“I’m a great grandpa, I’ve already got six grandkids ages 12 down to one, and they all need the best education they can get,” Hiott said. “Personally, I’m kind of tired of seeing my own kids move out of the town, out of the county for jobs and education.”

Hiott says the school will primarily be funded through state and federal funds, but they are also seeking private donations.

“It’s for all students, it’s not a select group,” Hiott said. “Nobody is paying anything to go.”

School organizers are considering renovating a building near the airport in Walterboro for the school, however there are noise concerns. If it doesn't pass inspection requirements there are plans to build a new school, possibly somewhere in the Highway 15 area.

According to state report cards, there are seven schools in the Colleton County School District and more than half of them are unsatisfactory or below average.

Despite the ranking, the district says they have improved.

"While we are still working to improve student performance in our district, all of our schools improved their performance on at least one indicator, and all schools showed gains in the student engagement," the district said in a news release on state report cards for the 2018 school year.

Colleton County teacher, James Carlisle says it’s nice for students to have options.

“A charter school for this community would be excellent to help drive education to be better that it already is," Carlisle said.

Carlisle is also the founder and president of a nonprofit, Young Scientists of South Carolina that provides students with STEM education and fun engaging activities for free.

“We get all these kids that have so much potential, they’re bright they’re interested, they’re curious, but I see so much room for us to do better by them.”

There are a few information meetings for the charter school that are open to the public:

  • Tuesday, January 21 - 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Coastal Electric Cooperative, 2269 Jefferies Hwy
  • Saturday, January 25 - 3 p.m. at the Bells Masonic Lodge, 18612 Lowcountry Hwy
  • Tuesday, January 28 - 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Coastal Electric Cooperative, 2269 Jefferies Hwy

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