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Charleston Co. School District considers plan to have a non-profit step in to help schools

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 7:56 PM EST
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is considering a proposal that would create a partnership with a local nonprofit to help failing school.

The Reimagine Schools Funding Proposal is a plan being brought to the school board by the Coastal Community Foundation to “close the student achievement gap and support academic recovery efforts for students.”

Reimagine Schools would create a three new bodies to support the constituent boards in Districts 4, 9, 20, and 23. These bodies, called Innovation Commissions would be comprised of parents, board members, faith groups and other community organization with the goal of tailoring education decisions for each specific community – including new initiatives to get those schools back on track. The school board would still maintain oversight authority.

The program calls for CCSD to commit to spending $31.1 million over 10 years. That money would cover the cost of several employees and up to a million dollars per school, per year of implementation. CCF says on top of that money, it would us it’s influence to raise funds as well.

The board agreed to make a final decision on the proposal in a special meeting on January 10. Read the full proposal here.

Ahead of the board meeting, a group of about 12 parents gathered outside to show their support for the proposal. Cheryl Cromwell with parent group RISE says the schools targeted by Reimagine Schools are being left behind right now.

“The way we look at it is that we can continue doing what we are doing or we can try something different, with people who are proven to be able to come in an turnaround a school,” Cromwell said. “It’s time for better schools for all children, not just a segment of them.”

Not all parents are on board with setting aside millions of dollars to a program managed by a nonprofit. Parent Joy Brown says this proposal was added to the CCSD board agenda on Friday ahead of the Monday meeting without time for the idea to be vetted through committees or constituents.

“It’s almost an immediate door opening to privatization. Third party privatization,” Brown said. “I’m not sure why CCSD can’t just take care of it themselves. Why do we have to pay out $31 million to another party.”

If approved the plan would start in January of 2022 with development of the Innovation Commissions. CCF says at no time would the money be in their control. It would all have to be allocated directly from the school board. President and CEO Darrin Goss says they are no in the business of running schools and no decisions made by commissions would be influenced by the nonprofit.

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