Charleston school board poised to push through major changes Monday despite public outcry

Charleston school board poised to push through major changes Monday despite public outcry
November 08 11:43 2019 Print This Article

The Charleston County School Board is poised to push through nearly 20 major policy changes Monday at its monthly committee meeting. The Veterans Day meeting commences at 12:25 at 75 Calhoun Street. The public comment period begins at 12:30.

The Charleston County Legislative Delegation had requested a meeting with the school board and Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait before voting on the major changes, which include closing and consolidating schools, ending school choice options and turning over control of 13 high-poverty schools to non-profit entities. The letter sent by the 22-member delegation of State Senators and Representatives stated, “There is a great deal of confusion, anger, and disagreement being expressed to members of the Legislative Delegation about discussed changes to magnet schools across Charleston County … you will not succeed without the trust and support of the public.” School board Chair Eric Mack responded with a letter stating that the board would meet with legislators after the changes are approved at its November 18 meeting. Lowcountry Source spoke. with two legislators who are upset that Postlewait and Mack would not meet with the legislative delegation before voting on these major changes.

One of the changes likely to be voted on Monday is whether St. Andrews Math and Science Elementary (SAMS) retains its status as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) school open to all West Ashley elementary students. The school of 818 students, with a highly diverse student population, would only be open to students in the neighborhoods surrounding South Windermere if it loses its “partial magnet” status.

Another agenda item being taken up Monday is combining C.E. Williams and West Ashley Middle schools. The 6th grade students would be located in one building, while the 7th and 8th grade students would occupy the new construction building near the West Ashley High School campus. The two schools cover the entire West Ashley area. A third West Ashley public middle school, Orange Grove Charter Middle, has limited space available because most of its 5th grade students choose to enroll in the middle school program.

The school board will also discuss turning 13 high poverty schools with 6300 students over to non-profit entities yet to be determined. The non-profits will receive the Title 1 per-pupil allotments and an additional $3000 per student. They will be managed by independent boards with no school district oversight. Stono Park elementary school is on the list of proposed “acceleration” schools being considered for non-profit takeover.

Not on the agenda Monday is a vote on the contract for Postlewait, who has been the Superintendent since 2015. Her contract is scheduled to expire November 16 but will automatically be extended for one year if the school board doesn’t act on it. Board member Kevin Hollinshead told Lowcountry Source that it takes four board members to add an item to the agenda but that he only has one ally in discussing Postlewait’s contract.