Colleton Co. expecting first-ever charter school in 2024

Colleton County is planning to welcome its first charter school next year.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 8:06 PM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Colleton County is planning to welcome its first charter school next year.

The Libertas Academy of Colleton will be affiliated with the Charter Institute of Erskine, which authorizes charter schools. This is similar to how a public school district works. This new school will be separate from Colleton County School District.

Tutelage School Solutions, a service provider that helps take charter schools all the way from initial concept to finalization, is working with the Charter Institute at Erskine to open five Libertas Academies in the state, including the one in Colleton County.

“It was an area where a lot of folks were, frankly, just asking for another opportunity, another choice for families in the greater Colleton area,” John Loveday, the executive director at Tutelage School Solutions, said.

Loveday says they’re hoping to have 100 students per grade. In its first year, they will have grades K-6 and add on seventh and eighth grade the following year. He says the goal is to have about 25 kids or less per classroom to have an even student-to-teacher ratio.

Their curriculum will consist of teaching core values of character development on top of traditional subjects as well as having PE every day and uniforms for all grades. Grades K-5 will also not be given homework.

“We want to be a partner in the area,” Loveday said. “We’re not here to replace. We are here to supplement.”

Colleton County School District will be the other school choice in the area. Although their mid-year reports show improvement, they scored below state average in language arts, math and graduation rating last school year. Loveday says this is part of the reason they want to come to the county in the first place.

He says when a charter school is placed in an area, the schools around them typically improve as well within three to four years’ time.

“Other schools in the area that have been here for a long time, have a legacy here, they will see improvement and that’s a great thing,” Loveday said.

As far as school safety, Colleton County Schools has had a history of student behavior issues. However, those are slowly improving as well. Loveday says they plan to have a full-time student resource officer in the building.

“It starts with leadership,” Loveday said. “It starts with school safety. It starts with building culture. It’s something that will have to be frankly addressed every single day.”

Colleton County School District did not wish to comment on the charter school at this time.

The next step for Libertas Academy is to find a location for an entirely new building and a person in charge. Loveday says they plan to have the location and students enrolling by this August so they can open their doors by next fall.