Trailers coming to new C.E. Williams

Trailers coming to new C.E. Williams
January 28 16:23 2020 Print This Article

The Charleston County School Board voted Monday to locate all West Ashley middle school students in the new C.E. Williams building for the 2020-2021 school year. The decision means that hundreds of students will attend classes in trailers. The school board voted in November to merge the two existing middle schools, with a combined enrollment of about 1250 students. The original plan was to place all 6th grade students in the current West Ashley Middle School building on William Kennerty Drive and all 7th and 8th grade students at the new C.E. Williams building on Wildcat Boulevard.

The new middle school building was designed for 900 students, although CCSD Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said the capacity was re-calculated at 1000. That means that trailers will take up most of the physical education field behind the school to accommodate the extra students.

The move to put all middle school students at one site was opposed by the two St. Andrews District 10 constituent school board members who participated in the public comment period. District 10 Chairman Rodney Lewis and Secretary David Bell both cited a lack of community input in developing the latest middle school plan. Many West Ashley parents also spoke out against the plan.

Not discussed at the meeting was the cost of installing trailers. A used 24 x 36 foot trailer with capacity for 25 students costs $15,000. There are added expenses for desks, ramp installation, electrical wiring and internet installation. There are also logistical concerns about whether to install paved covered walkways between the trailers and the main building. Having students in trailers also makes site security more challenging.

Large numbers of West Ashley middle school students attend public middle schools outside of West Ashley. Hundreds attend Charleston County School of the Arts and Palmetto Scholars Academy in North Charleston, Charleston Math and Science Charter, Allegro Music Academy and Buist Academy on the peninsula, and Lowcountry Leadership Academy in Hollywood.

Concerns over the middle school merger will likely induce many West Ashley parents to apply for school choice options for the 2020-2021 school year. The school choice application period opened today and will conclude Friday, February 28 at 4 pm. Families will be notified of acceptance on April 3. There is a School Choice Fair set for the existing C.E. Williams building at 640 Butte Street Saturday, February 1 from 10 am to 1 pm, at which parents may learn more about choice options and meet the choice school administrators.

Another uncertainty discussed at the school board meeting is the outcome of the 1% school construction sales tax referendum in November. West Ashley has a population of 80,000 and is experiencing rapid growth. The school district has not offered a school construction plan or revealed how the currently middle school properties will be utilized.