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Burke High School To Move Forward Without A Principal
Published:
8/4/2016 11:06:02 AM


Anna Dassing
 
By Barney Blakeney


With the start of the 2016-17 school year in Charleston County beginning August 15, a permanent principal at Burke High School has yet to be hired.

However, the district has appointed former Moultrie Middle and College and Career Readiness director Anna Dassing to lead the school until then.

That doesn’t sit well with many who feel the chronically underperforming high school, peninsula Charleston’s only community high school, needs every advantage it can get.

Burke, rated among the state’s worst performing high schools, should be a priority for receiving resources and certainly a principal to lead the school into the new school year is a no-brainer. But as usual, Burke’s being either neglected or manipulated, some observers say.
   
Shortly after school ended in June, Burke’s principal Maurice Cannon abruptly was elevated to become the district’s Director of Accreditation (whatever that means). And only last week after a 30-day principal search yielded no appointment, the district reached into its magic hat and pulled Dassing from a downtown office. The principal’s position will be re-advertised, said district spokeswoman Erica Taylor.

The 104-year-old Burke, perhaps the state’s oldest continually operating predominantly black school, likely is being rebranded because the peninsula’s racial demographics radically have changed with gentrification. And Burke’s surrounding community is being redeveloped. The West Edge urban redevelopment project will encase the school. Burke High in the future will not exclusively serve its historically black constituency.

Dr. Barbara Dilligard, former Charleston County School District administrator and co-founder of the Burke Foundation which advocates for the school as a consultant, is coordinating a leadership team that brings together a focus on the feeder schools which contribute to Burke’s student population with its enhanced curriculum.
   
The new ‘Burke Feeder System’ includes Sanders-Clyde Elementary, Simmons-Pinckney Middle and Burke High schools in an education continuum that maximizes student preparation from kindergarten through 12th grade, Dilligard said.

A new curriculum structure at Burke will feature four academies - advanced studies with advance placement and dual credit courses, career & technology with 11 career studies options in conjunction with Lowcountry Tech Academy which arrives at the campus this school year, fine arts courses in choir, band, drama, dance and visual arts and graduate prep courses in core subjects. The new academies are in addition to culinary arts and health sciences course studies already offered at the school.

Dilligard said while a principal at Burke is needed, more important is facilitating stability and consistency. The new program can begin and function until a principal is found, she said.

“What we don’t need is to rush through a process that ends in placing a weak leader at a school with so many needs. Burke’s had a lot of inconsistencies. This gives it stability and consistency until we find the right people,” Dilligard said.
 

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Raymond Reed Submitted: 8/8/2016
Why does the county insist that Burke is on the low end of the education scale? Did they not notice that a lot of the graduates have gone on to become lawyers, doctors, educators, etc just like any other grad in the low-country? I think it's very disrespectful that they think of charleston in this manner.


Submitted By: Submitted: 2/27/2017


 
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