Orange Grove will improve student outcomes at Stono Park

by John Steinberger | December 22, 2019 1:31 pm

Orange Grove Charter School has submitted an application[1] to Charleston County School District (CCSD) to manage Stono Park Elementary, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. Stono Park, which has 94% of its student population living in poverty, is ranked 567 out of South Carolina’s 637 elementary schools. Eventually, Stono Park students would become part of an expanded Orange Grove Middle School.

Under the proposal, Stono Park would be re-named Orange Grove at Stono Park. Orange Grove Charter School would be responsible for hiring the school staff. All current Stono Park staff members would be invited to apply. Orange Grove would have discretion on choosing curriculum materials, staffing patterns and implementing instructional strategies. The proposal would have to be approved by the Charleston County School Board to take effect.

Orange Grove became a charter school with an independent board of directors in 2007. It quickly improved from being an average-rated school to an excellent-rated school. The school currently serves 1150 students from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. The elementary school is located in the off of Orange Grove Road in West Ashley. The middle school is located at the former Oakland Elementary campus off of Savannah Highway. Its first 8th grade class graduated[2] in 2018.

Orange Grove, led by principal John Clendaniel, uses research-substantiated methods of instruction. Teachers embed reading, writing, and research into all subjects. Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade use the phonics-based, self-paced SRA reading curriculum. Classes spend an average of 90 minutes a day on reading and math. Teachers use student test scores to individualize instruction. There are lead teachers at every elementary school grade level, who mentor teachers and work with small groups of students on skills that need improvement. Character development is also emphasized at the school.

Stono Park currently has an enrollment of about 300 students, with the capacity to add 200 more. About 40% of the students in its attendance area, which includes the Edgewater Park and Capri Isle neighborhoods in West Ashley, choose to attend other schools. The proposal would enable students on Orange Grove’s waitlist (currently more than 400 in kindergarten alone) to fill spaces that are not taken by students in the Orange Grove at Stono Park attendance area. The proposal calls for combining rising 6th graders from Orange Grove Charter Elementary and Orange Grove at Stono Park into a new 800-student middle school at the former Middleton High School campus on William Kennerty Drive, which would be contingent on a 1% sales tax for school construction referendum being approved by Charleston County voters in 2020.

Endnotes:
  1. application: https://www.ccsdschools.com/cms/lib/SC50000504/Centricity/Domain/1717/Solicitation%20for%20Interest-Orange%20Grove%20at%20Stono%20Park.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0tsMePHmEAjUU9uqqAG4hiySoFj__ZX0_57kW5nGTV_nw3aSPFNtnAqSM
  2. graduated: https://lowcountrysource.com/feature-this/orange-grove-graduates-its-first-8th-grade-class/

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