CCSD’s priorities are with the powerful

CCSD’s priorities are with the powerful
September 06 06:00 2018 Print This Article

Lowcountry Source reported on the contentious battle between the Stono Park Elementary parents, teachers, and community to replace the 66-year-old school or whether to renovate the crumbling building with mold in the ductwork. Stono Park, on Garden Street in West Ashley, is finally being rebuilt and will reopen in August 2019. The school is occupying a swing space at the former St. Andrews High School campus until the new building is completed.

A Stono Park community member has reached out to Lowcounty Source with concerns about the school. The first is that outstanding Principal Michelle Simmons was reassigned as an administrator for CCSD at 75 Calhoun Street. Under her leadership, the school had been rated the number one Title I school in South Carolina (91% of its students are living in poverty). When she left,
Latrice Smalls, who had served as lead teacher under Simmons for eight years, was promoted to Interim Principal. Then CCSD announced just before this school year began in August that Kimberly Riggins, who had served as a principal in Denver for several years, was hired as the new interim principal. The school has had three principals in three years, which is destabilizing for students and teachers, alike.

In contrast, the under-construction Lucy Beckham High School  in Mt. Pleasant, which will be not be completed until 2020, already has a principal in place. Parents and community members have been invited to PowerPoint presentations promoting the school to garner excitement in the community. There have been no such presentations for Stono Park. This community member would like to know the focus of the rebuilt school. Will its focus be the arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), foreign language, or something else? What will CCSD do to garner excitement for this new school and make students in the surrounding middle-income neighborhoods want to attend.

There is a huge disparity in the resources placed in building, promoting, and supporting Mt. Pleasant schools and the elite magnet schools in Charleston County versus the neighborhood schools in the rest of the county. A new regional stadium opened on the Wando Campus August 31. It has artificial turf, an air-conditioned press box and a digital scoreboard. The original price tag ballooned from $8 million on the 2014 school construction sales tax referendum to $16.5 million. Is a new state-of-the-art stadium more important than replacing a building full of moldy duct work that is making children sick? Up until 2017, CCSD officials were recommending that Stono Park should get an $8 million renovation rather than the rebuild the community was promised.

Why was there even a question that this building should be razed and rebuilt? Lowcountry Source contends that the wealthy and powerful get the most attention and resources from CCSD. More equity is needed to give all of our students an opportunity to succeed in life.