Carolina Park Elementary re-zone plans concern parents

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 2:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 8:23 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - As Mount Pleasant continues to grow, the Charleston County School District is figuring out how to assign each neighborhood’s population to a nearby school.

A re-zone plan currently in the works has some Carolina Park parents pushing back. The Charleston County Constituent District 2 members will consider four map options in the re-zoning. Each map would move about 200 students who currently live in the Carolina Park district to another elementary school.

District 2 Constituent Board Chair Pamela Jouan-Goldman says the board will review the options and take input from parents during the process.

“About two years ago, we had a rezoning of Carolina Park Elementary School. We were right in the middle of the pandemic. We were fairly conservative about the rezoning that we did at that point. And we are now faced with unprecedented growth in this area and so we have to go ahead and rezone again,” Jouan-Goldman says.

The district’s department of planning and real estate projections says Carolina Park Elementary enrollment will exceed the school’s capacity by 2025. Nearby Laurel Hill and Charles Pinckney are expected to have space and bear the transfer of some Carolina Park students.

“We are really blessed to have amazing schools. So the schools that we do have the potential rezoning people to are all fantastic schools. Both Laurel Hill and Pickney are definitely top notch,” Jouan-Goldman says.

Jonathan Mars is one of more than 1,000 parents who have signed a petition against map option one, which impacts many children, including his own. He says he doesn’t want to see parts of Carolina Park split up.

“All of the options put every parent in North Mount Pleasant in a difficult spot,” Mars says. “However, we just think that creating a have and have not in the same neighborhood where kids are going to go to the pool and they’re not going to go to the same school as their friends there. It just creates a really difficult dynamic for our children.”

Mars says most of the Carolina Park neighborhood kids walk or bike to school and that’s a big perk to a lot of parents.

“It’s one of the reasons we moved here. I think anyone who lives in Carolina Park and has kids under 12 wanted their kids to go to this school,” he says. “It just doesn’t seem to make sense that we would want to take kids off of their bikes and put them in a car and ship them across town.”

Mars suggests the district look into solutions like long-term expansion or short-term portable classrooms instead of moving kids around.

“I think expansion is a good case and there was a vote for 1% tax increase two years ago to expand this very school. The issue for us as Carolina Park residents is this land was donated to the district with the understanding that Carolina Park children would be able to go to this school,” Mars says.

Jouan-Goldman says expansion is complicated and has been a tricky subject to accomplish for the school.

“We have asked the county board and CCSD to expand the school. We had hoped the school was going to be expanded already but it is not funded for an expansion. And so we are currently faced with having to do a rezoning,” she says.

She hopes to have an open discussion about the plans at the next board meeting

“We would just say that don’t be afraid of what potentially could happen because you might end up at a school you love even more than the one you’re in. You know, it’s unfortunate that it does have to happen,” she says. “We are going to have parents who are going to be unhappy about this. But it is also a public schools and public school does not belong to any one neighborhood.”

Mars and other parents plan to attend the Aug. 23 District 2 Constituent Board Meeting where the re-zone topic is on the agenda. Some are organizing to wear blue to signify Carolina Park Unity. The board is expected to hear public comments and consider the options. Members will likely make a decision later this fall for upcoming school years.

Constituent districts are used by the school district for the re-zoning process as well as to assign students to non-magnet local schools, to consider and determine student transfer requests, both inter and intra-district and to hear and decide student discipline appeals.

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