Task Force set up to plan West Ashley middle schools

Task Force set up to plan West Ashley middle schools
December 06 09:36 2019 Print This Article

Charleston County School District (CCSD) has set up a Task Force to plan the re-alignment of the West Ashley middle schools. About 100 parents, principals, teachers and concerned citizens gathered at West Ashley High School (WAHS) Thursday to discuss the consolidation plans for C.E. Williams and West Ashley middle schools. All 6th grade students will be located at the existing West Ashley Middle School on William Kennerty Drive, while the 7th and 8th grade students will occupy the new C.E. Williams building near the WAHS campus in August 2020.

The Task Force, coordinated by CCSD middle school director Dr. Joe Williams, consists of the existing middle school principals and parents and teachers from both schools. It may be expanded to include representatives from West Ashley elementary schools. In addition to analyzing logistics and curriculum matters and extracurricular offerings, the Task Force plans to visit school districts using the “6th Grade Academy” model in Irmo (near Columbia) and Aiken County. CCSD is planning team-building and school climate discussions with the students and parents before classes begin in August.

WAHS principal Ryan Cumback commended that consolidation move and noted that the proximity of the new C.E. Williams building to the high school will give the students access to high school classes and fine arts and athletic programs not currently available to all West Ashley middle school students. Cumback said, “This will change the future of West Ashley in a positive way.”

Some of the concerns expressed by parents in the public comment period included bus transportation issues, multiple school transitions for current elementary school students, the history of turmoil in West Ashley middle schools, low student achievement, and the uncertainty of who the principals will be at the two consolidated schools. There was also concern expressed about the short time frame for parents to explore school choice options. CCSD typically holds its school choice application period from January to February.

Former West Ashley Middle School principal Paul Padrone said the consolidation will be positive if CCSD makes good on its promises and offers extra staffing during the transition. He advised the CCSD administrators in attendance, “Listen to the principals and teachers when they ask for support. They know what they need.”