Feedback needed on plans to combine Charleston Co. School District elementaries
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District wants the community’s feedback on the over $100 million project to consolidate three elementary schools.
Hunley Park, W.B. Goodwin and Lambs Elementary Schools are all within three miles of each other along Dorchester Road. In Nov. 2019, the Charleston County School Board voted to combine the schools.
The district provided three grade configuration options:
- Option 1: A new facility at Lambs Elementary School combining Lambs, Goodwin and Hunley holding 1,200 students, 1st-5th grade. A new Early Learning Center at the Goodwin Campus, infants-kindergarten.
- Option 2: A new facility at Lambs Elementary School combining Lambs and Goodwin holding 900 students, 1st-5th grade. A new Early Learning Center at the Goodwin Campus, infants-kindergarten. Hunley remains 1st-5th grade.
- Option 3: A new facility at Lambs Elementary School combining Lambs and Hunley holding 900 students, 1st-5th grade. A new Early Learning Center at Joint Base Charleston, infants-kindergarten. Goodwin remains 1st-5th grade.
The school district’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said it’s financially beneficial to consolidate the schools because there are additional costs in managing three smaller buildings. He added, having more children under one roof will provide continuity among teachers and provide back-up support if someone calls out.
Former Goodwin Teacher and community member Sydney Van Bulck said she likes the idea of a new Early Learning Center but would prefer if each school stayed separate.
“All three of these schools are strong independent communities and families, they all have different needs, and there is absolutely no evidence that points to larger schools being beneficial,” She said.
Borowy said he acknowledges each school is its own community, but after consolidation, a similar community would be established over time.
Van Bulck also said that saving money is not enough of a reason to disrupt hundreds of students’ learning environments.
“While I think we all agree that there are places we can skim the fat from the budget, I don’t think we should be starting with our most at-risk students,” Van Bulck said.
Jasmeen Shaw, the Executive Director of Capital Programs for Charleston County said she understands there are concerns about bringing three Title One Schools together.
“I do remember there being concern with a 1,200-student school,” Shaw said, “Since then, we’ve interacted with principals, staff, and now we’re ready to go to the community with these three options.”
Borowy said school district staff are recommending Option 3 because there was a discussion that 1,200 students under one roof might be too much of a challenge. He said they opted for Goodwin to remain separate because there is a traffic light.
He emphasized that nothing has been decided and is encouraging the community to provide input. Two community meetings will be held in the coming week, one on Sept. 13 at Lambs Elementary School, and another on Sept. 19 at Jerry Zucker Middle School. Both meetings are at 6 p.m.
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