Legislators move to realign Charleston County School Board

Legislators move to realign Charleston County School Board
January 29 10:35 2020 Print This Article

State Representative Leon Stavrinakis (D-West Ashley) filed a bill Tuesday to change the way Charleston County School Board members are elected. The bill (H-5034), which has bi-partisan support among the Charleston County Legislative Delegation, calls for the election of all nine school board members in districts identical to those of Charleston County Council in November 2020. Currently, school board members are elected county-wide.

The move was precipitated by public anxiety and discontent over the Charleston County School District’s plans to consolidate numerous schools without any public input from the school communities. In a November 1 letter signed by 21 of the 22 legislative delegation members, legislators asked CCSD Superintendent Geritta Postlewait and school board chair Eric Mack to delay the proposed changes until after they were discussed with legislators and the impacted school communities. Their request was ignored and the school board approved the changes on November 18.

Public anger was compounded when the school board voted on Monday to locate all West Ashley middle school students on one campus. The two existing middle schools have an enrollment of about 1250 students, and the move would place them all at a new school building designed for 900 students. Under the plan, hundreds of student will attend classes in trailers placed on the land intended for a physical education and sports field, starting in August. The cost of buying and installing the trailers and paved, covered walkways to the school building was not discussed by the school board.

Representative Lin Bennett (R-West Ashley) supports the change in school board elections. She said, “Legislators are responding to the concerns expressed by parents about the changes being made by CCSD. My hope is that this will put parents and students back in the forefront.” Bennett characterized the move to place West Ashley middle school students in trailers as “an example of poor planning and a failure to listen to parents.”