• Board approves recommendations for major changes (1/28/20)

    The Charleston County School Board of Trustees approved on November 18 and December 16 a list of recommended changes for next year. These recommendations are the culmination of more than a year of analysis, collaboration, planning, and feedback gathering including Shared Future, AdvancEd and Clemson studies, Mission Critical Action teams, community listening sessions public meetings throughout the district. 


    The recommendations approved on November 18 are as follows:

    • Mary Ford Elementary will become the district’s first Early Childhood and Family Engagement Center for 4K and 5K students and eligible 0-2 year olds in August 2020. Chicora Elementary will become a 1-5 school to include Mary Ford students.
    • 15 schools were designated as “Acceleration Schools” based on recent academic performance by individual schools or by a feeder pattern of schools. Those schools will receive intensive care in order to accelerate academic growth. Conversations are currently being held regarding the possibility of asking the State Board of Education for waivers from some regulations to allow these schools more autonomy. Those waivers could include areas such as length of school day/week/year; teacher certification in some subjects; and teacher evaluation processes.
    • Somewhat connected to the Acceleration Schools is the concept of “schools of choice” that would allow selected schools to request additional waivers from regulations and would also create the possibility that some schools would be “partnership-managed schools.” A recent Solicitation for Interest resulted in three partnership proposals for next year: Engaging Creative Minds at Sanders-Clyde Elementary, a College of Charleston teacher residency at a school TBD, and a University of Virginia leadership program with several schools TBD. There were also five turnaround proposals for partnership-management. Those proposals are currently being vetted by a committee, and any resulting recommendations would be presented to the Board by January. It is important to note that Acceleration Schools don’t necessarily become partnership-managed. Also, regardless of the designation, all the schools remain public schools serving a neighborhood attendance zone. There is no plan to privatize these schools.
    • The CCSD gifted program will be revamped with local placement policies to ensure that every school serves at least the top 5% of students in grades 3-8.
    • All CCSD staff members will receive cultural competency training and an advisory group will be formed on diversity and inclusion.
    • The College of Charleston and West Ashley High will partner to establish an Advanced Academic Program at West Ashley for Advanced Placement and college-credit coursework.
    • District 10’s 6-8 students will be merged into one feeder pattern with grade 6 likely located at West Ashley Middle and grades 7-8 at C.E. Williams Middle beginning in Fall 2020.
    • Haut Gap Middle will move grade 5 back to the feeder elementary schools beginning in Fall 2020, and the remaining grades 6-8 school will be a constituent magnet for eligible students from District 9 and Camp Road Middle.
    • Three new elementary school projects will be among those added to the sales tax referendum vote in November 2020: a new Ladson Elementary at Ingleside and conversion of the current Ladson to a 4-5K Early Childhood and Family Engagement Center; a new elementary campus for the merger of Hunley Park, Lambs, and W.B. Goodwin Elementaries on the current Lambs campus. Either Hunley Park or Goodwin will be converted to a 4-5K Early Childhood and Family Engagement Center; and a new elementary school in Constituent District 9.
    • Studies will be conducted in two areas: the feasibility of creating one Montessori middle school to house grades 7-8 from Murray LaSaine, James Simons, Hursey, and Montessori Community schools; and the feasibility of combining, merging, or rezoning schools with fewer than 500 students within the next 3-5 years.

    The recommendations approved on December 16 are as follows:


    • Buist Academy grade structure and application process:
      • Phase out grades K-2 by the 2023-24 school year; K-2 students currently at Buist would stay at the school until they move into grades 3 and above; Buist would be a grades 3-8 school beginning in 2022-23.
      • Expand grades 3-6 by one class per grade beginning next year; middle grades 6-8 would expand to four classes per grade by 2024-25.
      • 2020-21 expansion classes would give preference to students at or above the 75th percentile in Reading and Math zoned for schools with a poverty index above 80%
      • Develop new admissions criteria for third graders
    • Academic Magnet High School admissions criteria:
      • Offer 30% of seats to incoming students who meet the entrance criteria and are zoned for a middle school with a poverty index above 80%
      • Add an additional point to the scoring rubric for students matriculating from a CCSD middle school or accredited Charleston County private or home-school program.
      • Rank order remaining applicants to fill available seats.
      • Continue the “Top Two” program
      • Refine the ACE “bridge” program
    • Memminger Elementary School:
      • Will become a countywide magnet with a K-5 advanced academic component
      • Additional kindergarten students will phase in for the 2020-21 school year, with eligibility for the advanced academic component based on students scoring “ready” on the kindergarten readiness assessment
      • District 20 students receive seating priority in the advanced academic component with remaining seats going to students zoned into schools with a poverty index of 80% or higher.
    • Partial magnet schools:
      • James B. Edwards Elementary, Sullivan’s Island Elementary, Jennie Moore Elementary, and Laing Middle will become District 2 constituent magnet schools maintaining their current attendance zone.
      • North Charleston Creative Arts and Zucker Middle will become District 4 constituent magnet schools maintaining their current attendance zone.
      • Ashley River Creative Arts and St. Andrew’s Math & Science will become District 10 constituent magnet schools, with St. Andrew’s maintaining its current attendance zone and creating a small attendance zone for Ashley River.
      • Mitchell Elementary (District 20) and E.B. Ellington Elementary (District 23) will become constituent magnet schools maintaining their current attendance zone.
      • Haut Gap Middle will become a constituent magnet school for eligible District 3 and District 9 students.


    Updated on January 13:

    • The vetting committee reviewing the Solicitation for Interest proposals to operate schools as turnaround partners informed the Board of Trustees that none of the proposals were being advanced for further consideration. Schools that are pursuing partners for programs will continue, but there will be no recommendations for entering into contracts with outside entities to operate the schools. The Acceleration Schools will continue to identify possible waiver requests for flexibility from some state regulations. Those waiver requests will be approved by the CCSD Board and then advanced to the State Board of Education for final approval.


    Updated on January 27:

    The CCSD Board of Trustees made a modification regarding the merger of all District 10 middle school students at their Jan. 27 meeting. They approved merging all grades 6-8 students in District 10 on the campus of the new C.E. Williams Middle School in August 2020. This is a change to the original proposal to put D10 sixth graders on one campus (West Ashley Middle or another suitable site) and house grades 7-8 at C.E. Williams Middle beginning August 2020. The CCSD staff will engage with District 10 stakeholders to develop a long-term middle school plan by June 2020. The Board will include any associated facility needs as part of the November penny sales tax referendum for capital projects.