Friday, December 19, 2008

In Case You Don't Subscribe to the P & C: Rivers Campus

From Friday's Letters to the Editor:

Honor public's choice for Rivers site

Friday, December 19, 2008

All three of Dr. Nancy McGinley's School Redesign options for Rivers Middle School destroy this handsome 1938 building designed by Albert Simons and relocate the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science (CCSMS), a middle high school, to Archer Elementary School.

How well can the Archer building, designed for 283 little children, serve the needs of 480 teenagers? In addition to being too small in scale and capacity, Archer won't meet the many special needs of high school students — including science labs and a gym. Does Archer make sense for a middle high school?

Dr. McGinley's plan also raises other questions. What happened to the public's vote on Rivers last year and the school district's four year agreement with CCSMS to use Rivers Middle?

On May 22, 2007, about 250 people participated in an elaborate public engagement process concerning the Rivers Middle campus. After hearing and discussing the alternatives, they were asked to rank various alternatives through a formal voting process. CCSMS was the undisputed winner of the vote.

In keeping with the vote, on April 14, the Charleston County School Board approved a four-year agreement for CCSMS to use Rivers. Yet eight months later, all three redesign options banish CCSMS from Rivers Middle.

Do votes by the public and signed agreements mean nothing?

On Aug. 20, CCSMS opened on the Rivers Middle campus with the most diverse student body in Charleston County. Before its first year of operation, it built a waiting list and already has more applications than spaces for next year's 6th grade.

Bucking the tide of declining enrollments in peninsula schools, CCSMS, will grow from 188 today to 480 in 2012 if it is allowed to stick with its four-year plan and facility agreement.

One sure way to improve educational opportunities for all District 20 children is to respect the public's choice for the Rivers Middle School. That choice is that the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science — designed for that campus and doing very well — remain there.

CCSMS is currently accepting applications for 2009-2010 for grades 6-10. Applications are due by Jan. 14 and are available at: Prospective students and their families are invited to an open house on Jan. 10 from 10 a.m.-noon.

Board of Directors
Charleston Charter School for Math & Science
King Street

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