Petition urges CCSD to slow down on sweeping changes

Petition urges CCSD to slow down on sweeping changes
December 14 14:39 2019 Print This Article

A petition is circulating asking the Charleston County School Board to pause on the sweeping changes it plans to implement for the 2020-2021 school year. The school board has already approved plans to close schools, consolidate schools and possibly turn over management of 15 low-performing schools to non-profit entities. It will consider further significant policy changes when it meets Monday at 75 Calhoun Street.

The petition references the motion passed unanimously by 13 members of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation Friday, asking the board to “stop and re-calibrate and re-engage the public” before carrying out the changes. The petition states, “These significant changes should not be rushed through to implementation without community input, planning that is based off proven education practices, and in a time-frame that maximizes the chance for success.”

On November 1, 21 of the 22 Senators and Representatives in the Charleston County Legislative Delegation sent a letter to Charleston County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and school board chair Eric Mack asking them to delay acting on major policy changes until the changes were explained to them and the public. The letter stated, “No matter how good your proposals may be, you will not succeed without the trust and support of the public who pay the bills and whose children we are charged with providing a first class education.” The board proceeded to approve most of the changes without meeting with legislators on November 18, which Senator Sandy Senn called “a slap in the face.”

The school board and superintendent finally held a joint meeting with the legislative delegation Friday. Most of the 13 legislators in attendance said that they have received numerous complaints from constituents and teachers about the proposed changes. Representative Leon Stavrinakis said, “It is worrisome that best practices are not being applied. Respectfully, you need to put the brakes on these decisions and get more community input.”

Many legislators expressed concern about CCSD plans for the 15 “acceleration schools” that have a long history of low student achievement. Senator Marlon Kimpson remarked, “The fear is that unknown (non-profit) entities are coming in to take over schools. The community is not pleased with this process.” Kimpson questioned why existing CCSD staff assets can’t come up with a plan to improve those schools, which are mostly in his district.