Sunday, May 4, 2014
The lingering question is about to be answered for East Cooper residents curious as to whether or not the Charleston County School District will construct a new high school in Mount Pleasant.
The CCSD District II Blue Ribbon Committee Workgroup, chaired by education activist Kate Darby has been meeting for several months to discuss that very subject. They've made an informal recommendation that is ready to be presented to the public.
Two Community Engagement Meetings have been scheduled:
– May 7 at Cario at 6 p.m.
– May 12 at Moultrie at 6 p.m.
These meetings are open to the public. There will be a 20-minute presentation on high school and middle school recommendations and then the meeting will be open for questions and input.
The mission of the CCSD District II Blue Ribbon Workgroup was to make recommendations to the superintendent as to the best process to develop a second high school that addresses anticipated increasing enrollment needs and increases opportunities for Moultrie District II students. The committee will also make recommendations regarding a fourth middle school which should replicate and increase opportunities.
The CCSD Blue Ribbon Committee recommends planning begin immediately for a comprehensive high school, grades 9-12, (for 1,500 students with a 2,000 core) to be sited at the Wando South campus in a completely new facility. (This recommendation assumes that the existing Wando Stadium will be razed and a new regional stadium will be built on the Wando campus where there is room and additional parking).
– A new regional stadium at Wando High School will need to be a part of that plan as a new high school cannot be built with the current stadium in place. Planning on the stadium should include the Town of Mount Pleasant.
– The goal should be to open the facility by the 2019-2020 school year.
– A new school should open with attendance zones and future open enrollment options.
– Enrollment in the Center for Advanced Studies should be open to students at the new high school with transportation provided.
– A new school should offer a comprehensive program of studies with some majors and programs not currently offered at Wando High School so that the two schools complement each other and expand opportunities for all District 2 high school students.
– Since students attending the new high school will have the opportunity to takes classes at the Center for Advanced Studies, the foundation classes that lead to courses at the Center for Advanced Studies (Engineering, Bio Medical, Info Tech, Health Science) should be offered.
– Additional majors which might be offered at the new comprehensive high school might include: Public Health, Maritime, Aerospace, Vet Tech and Wind Turbine Technology.
In addition, the committee reviewed middle school options and recommends that any future middle schools' curriculum should mirror Cario, Laing and Moultrie. “We recommend all our schools focus on academic excellence and do not see the need for academic magnet concept schools in District 2,” Darby said.
The Blue Ribbon Committee will also recommend that CCSD staff begin discussions immediately with Carolina Park developers to acquire additional property adjacent to the Wando High School campus for future high school expansion and/or a future middle school. “The committee recommends all possible locations for a middle school be explored before locations north of Carolina Park are considered,” Darby added.
– 9th grade academy adjacent to WHS campus
– 9th grade academy at Wando South site
– New 9-12 comprehensive high school with all components from AP to special education
This committee is separate from the the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Council on Education, appointed by Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page and headed by Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych.
Members of that group want to pinpoint the town's school needs ahead of a possible referendum in November to extend a 1 percent sales tax aimed at funding the school district's building program.
District II is a large and growing district covering Mount Pleasant and the smaller surrounding communities east of the Cooper. The large area includes the nearly built out Old Mount Pleasant and the fast-growing areas beyond Highway 41. There has been a large increase in student population and housing units mostly in the northern and eastern parts of the district. The factors most likely spurring housing growth and student population growth in District 2 are the desirability of the area as a place to live, housing options and high-quality schools.