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Lincoln High Parents Will Continue Their Fight, But The School Likely Will Close
5/5/2016 12:03:10 PM

Eric Mack

Thomas Colleton
Staff Reports 

Charleston County School Board members still must vote, but it appears District 1’s Lincoln Middle High School, founded in 1954 and serves about 160 students from the rural McClellanville, will be closed next fall.

School district officials say the closure is necessary because of the high cost of operating the predominantly Black school in a rural area of the county where most students already attend schools outside the constituent district.

Constituent Dist. 1 School Board Chairman Thomas Colleton said although a majority of county school board members seem convinced to close Lincoln, area parents are committed to fighting what he admits may be the inevitable.

Charleston County school officials historically have refused to provide adequate resources to Lincoln and other predominantly Black rural schools, he said.

An $18 million budget shortfall created by school district officials is being used to justify long-standing efforts to close those schools, Colleton said.

Lincoln Middle High parents are enlisting the aide of The National Action Network to support legal and civil challenges to the board’s decision to close the school, Colleton said.

“We’re going to put up a fight,” he said. “When it comes to cutting costs at other schools they implement measures like reducing the number of teachers and administrators or increasing class sizes. But the theme has been to close rural predominantly Black schools. They balance the budget on the backs of Black schools and students,” he said.
County school board member Todd Garrett has been an advocate for the district’s fiscal responsibility, but he thinks closing Lincoln may have additional benefits.

Students at Lincoln High have been chronically under performing academically, Garrett said. Lincoln has not been sending its graduates prepared to enter the world of work or higher education, he said. The opportunity for improved outcomes are greater at Wando High where Lincoln students will be assigned, he said.

Rev. Eric Mack, who represents schools in the district’s rural southern end said he doesn’t support closing Lincoln for many of the same reasons as Colleton. Frierson Elementary School on Mack’s native Wadmalaw Island likely will be slated for closure after next year, he predicts. Charleston County School District traditionally has underfunded rural schools, Mack said. And though operating costs never should be a reason to close any school, he anticipates Lincoln will close.

County school board member Michael Miler said the problem goes beyond Lincoln’s closure. Unless the elementary schools that feed students to underachieving high schools are improved, struggling students who leave them will continue to struggle no matter where they attend high school, he said. “It’s a multi-tiered problem,” Miller said.

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