Charleston Co. School District makes progress with new Johns Island elementary

A new elementary school planned for Johns Island is making its way through the approval process with the City of Charleston.
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:32 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 10:57 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new elementary school planned for Johns Island is making its way through the approval process with the City of Charleston.

The construction plan went before the design review board for the second of its three times, on Monday. It’s a standard, but lengthy, process any builders go through with big projects in the city.

Executive Director of Capital Programs Jasmeen Shaw explains the school is going to be state of the art and offer STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – education.

“The island truly deserves a brand-new school and we’re able to bring them a brand-new school which as well as alleviates some of the overcrowding that’s been caused by growth in the area – which is a great thing,” Shaw says.

The elementary school will be off of River Road. It is planned to be two stories and serve 700 2nd through 5th graders.

During community meetings last year – some people expressed concern about traffic. Part of the construction also includes building a roundabout on River Road to enter the school property. The project also includes adding a left turn lane from River Road to Brownswood Road and adding a right turn lane from Brownswood Road onto River Road.

“We’re going to bring several road improvements to the area, which is not only going to benefit the school which operates Monday through Friday for the most part, but even on weekends and as a whole, this particular school is going to be an asset to the entire community,” Shaw says.

Stephanie Yesil and her husband live in a neighborhood off River Road.

“Maybe it will help with the development of River Road and turning it into a safer place. Maybe adding some sidewalks, maybe adding some additional controls, maybe some new lights, maybe some new signs to make it even more family friendly. So, this could be a really good thing if it’s done well,” Yesil says.

She is a former education who says she doesn’t have kids yet, but supports investing in education.

“My husband and I hopefully one day will be parents but for now, I mean, we love our neighbors and almost every single one of them have new children and it would be really nice to make sure that this is more of a community-oriented place rather than having a bus kids all over the place,” Yesil says.

The elementary school is meant to help with the crowding at the Angel Oak Elementary, which is operating at 129% capacity over operating ability. The $53.5 million dollar brand new school will offer STEAM programs. Then, the Angel Oak Elementary building will be converted to serve as a head start and 1st grade center, so all levels are included. The goal open date for the school is the start of the 2024-2025 school year.

“I think education is always a great idea. I think there’s always going to be a need for it. I can’t speak to other city planning. I can’t necessarily speak to any other kinds of businesses that we should have over here. But you’ll always get a yes vote for me when it comes to bringing in good teachers, good people and giving more and more space for kids to go to places to learn,” Yesil says.

Monday, the design review board approved the conceptual plans and submitted the information to staff for a further focused review.  The board made some aesthetic suggestions to the plans like more fencing around the back of the building, but overall supported the designs. Charleston County Schools says the project is on track and they expect to start site prep work in March.