Blue Ribbon Committee on Education finalizes recommendation

  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Blue Ribbon Committee of the Council on Education, created by Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page, formalized their recommendation on what the needs are for East Cooper schools and will send that to Charleston County School District (CCSD) officials.

Members worked to pinpoint the town's school needs ahead of a referendum in November to extend a 1-percent sales tax aimed at funding the school district's building program.

County voters approved the six-year sales tax increase in 2010.

Many have wondered if Mount Pleasant would ever have two high schools.

What was decided by the committee is that East Cooper needs a new elementary school to offset the impact of overcrowding in Park West schools as well as a high school and middle school option.

Wando High School is overcrowded. That's no secret. And while the new Center for Advanced Studies at Wando will add 600 seats, the forecast still says Wando will be hosting almost 4,300 students by the 2019 school year.

What the committee has concluded is that East Cooper is ready for a second high school – a smaller high school at the old Wando South facility.

The recommendation to the Charleston County School Board will be that CCSD put in their next building plan – a directive to build a brand new nine-12 comprehensive high school. It will offer everything from AP courses to special education. The school will have band, a newspaper and other extracurricular activities.

The facility would likely hold 1,400-1,500 students with space to expand to 2,000 when needed.

To do that, the stadium will have to go and a new stadium built at Wando. Committee members would like to have the facility open for the 2020 school year.

Committee members included Kate Darby, Rebecca Imholz, and Mount Pleasant Town Council members Thomasena Stokes-Marshall, Chris Nickels and Committee Chairman Paul Gawrych.

6-Year Program

After thorough review of the capital needs facing Moultrie District 2 schools, the Committee believes that significant measures are necessary and proper to address the issues related to overcrowding and aging/inadequate facilities. The Committee further believes that the tremendous growth currently occurring in Mount Pleasant will continue for several more years and unless the projects identified in this report are completed quickly, the resulting negative impact on District 2 schools will be significant. The Committee considers the following projects to be imperative in addressing dire needs and ensuring the continued success of Moultrie District 2 schools, and therefore believe that the following projects should be constructed during Wave 1 of the Charleston County School District Phase IV Capital Projects Master Plan.

1. Carolina Park Elementary School- Site adapt the new Jennie Moore Elementary School to build a new 900-student school with a 1,200 student core.

2. New District 2 High School- Construct a new 1,500- 2,000 student high school on the Wando South campus. *

3. Wando Stadium- Build a new regional stadium to allow the district to build the new high school at the Wando South campus and possibly partner with the Town on constructing a shared facility. *

a. Due to several comments made during the District 2 Workgroup Public Meetings, the Committee requests that the District consider alternate locations for the Wando Stadium so as to locate the facility in a more central area of town. A more central location would make it easier for parents and students from both high schools to access the stadium. It would also provide for additional space at the Wando High School campus and this space could be used for future expansion.

*Note- Understanding that the second high school cannot be constructed until the existing stadium is cleared from the site, the Committee believes that both projects should be funded and implemented simultaneously.

9-Year Program

1. Land for a Fourth Middle School- Purchase a parcel of land to support a future fourth Middle School. The Charleston County School District should work with local planners to properly site the future school site and all possible locations should be considered.

2. District 2 Elementary School- Renovate a District 2 campus for a District 2 Elementary School.

a. The Committee does not support the addition of academic magnet concept schools in District 2.

3. East Cooper Montessori School- Renovate a District 2 campus to support East Cooper Montessori School.

Capital Maintenance Projects

Perform the needed cyclical capital maintenance (roofs, HVAC, bathrooms, carpets, IT infrastructure, door hardware, etc.) to the schools that were built or renovated in the 1997-2005 time frame. The Facility Condition Assessment will develop the detailed scopes of work to be completed at these schools.

1. Pinckney Elementary School

2. Cario Middle School

3. Wando High School

4. Belle Hall Elementary School

5. J.B. Edwards Elementary School

6. Old Whitesides School

Other Recommendations

1. Mount Pleasant Choice Options Pamphlet- Develop and distribute a pamphlet describing each of the Mount Pleasant Choice Option schools.

2. Extension of the Mount Pleasant TIF- In conjunction with the Charleston County School Board and the Charleston County Council, continue to pursue the possibility of extending the Tax Increment Financing in Mount Pleasant as a means to fund future capital projects that can benefit both the school district and the community at large.

3. Additional Property in Carolina Park- Consider purchasing additional land in the Carolina Park development for future use.

4. Regular Re-zoning- Consider implementing regular re-zoning, or regular re-consideration of the need to re-zone to ensure that all Mount Pleasant schools are operating at suitable capacities.

For more updates from the desk of the Moultrie News editor, Sully Witte, please follow Sully's Scoop on Twitter @SullysScoop and like Sully's Scoop Facebook page.  

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