CCSD plans for new Center for Advanced Studies in North Charleston

Published: Mar. 27, 2017 at 9:27 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2017 at 5:11 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District could bring a center for advanced studies to North Charleston in an effort to provide career-related educational opportunities for students.

The school board met on Monday to vote on whether they would move forward with the current plans. The board decided to wait until the district receives more community input.

The current plans would mean tearing down the North Charleston High School Football stadium, where the center would be built, and closing Garrett Academy of Technology, a magnet school, over the next few years. Students at Garrett would have to attend another high school.

A Center for Advanced Studies in North Charleston would create new opportunities for all students in North Charleston high schools, officials say. It could include specialization classes in engineering, science and technology.

Beverly Gadson-Birch volunteers in North Charleston schools.

"The opportunities are great, we are so far behind when it comes to high tech, I'm one that has fought so hard for high tech," Gadson-Birch said

North Charleston Councilman Bob King represents the Park Circle area where the new center would go. 

"We do need that in North Charleston," King said. "It's just a matter of where."

It's the where that has people questioning the Charleston County School District's plans. 

In a community meeting Saturday, district officials said they were looking at putting the center on the current site of the North Charleston High School Football Stadium. King is in favor of the center, but he isn't sold on the location.

"They need to look at the whole picture and I think they need to do a lot of studying before they start taking any votes on it," King said.

Gadson-Birch doesn't agree with plans to merge curriculum from Garrett Academy of Technology with the new center because that means Garrett would close in the next few years.

District officials say teachers at Garrett could be employed for positions at the new center, but would have to apply.

Chief Operating Officer for CCSD, Jeff Borowy, says the location at North Charleston would allow students to walk from North Charleston High to the center. The district would work out transportation for other high schools.

"It's an opportunity to provide the best possible resources for education on both career and advanced higher-ed at one place because you can't afford to put them in every single place, but it allows our students from all different schools an opportunity to get these courses," Borowy said.

Funded through the Charleston County penny tax for school projects, the center would cost $42.7 million. There's another Center for Advanced Studies in Mount Pleasant. 

CCSD is planning to bring a regional stadium to the area for schools to share, but the location has not yet been determined. The goal is to have the new stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies completed by 2020.

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