By Beverly Gadson-Birch
The Charleston County School Board of Trustees at its March 13 Committee of the Whole Meeting decided to recommend to the Board as an Action Item to consolidate Garrett Academy with the new North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies at North Charleston High School. Background: The Board’s recommendation is a follow up from several years ago when the Board decided to scrap the Lowcountry Tech at the Rivers Campus and give the entire campus to the Math Science Charter School. They promised to replicate the program in each constituent district. Watch the devious pattern as it unfolds!
The Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (IMA) was first to approach the board with a very comprehensive plan to open a district-wide high tech school on the Rivers campus because Boeing, Clemson Wind Turbine and other large industries were slated for the area. After numerous community rallies, organizations, parental and stakeholders’ input, the Board approved 40% space allocation for the high tech school and 60% for the Math Science Charter School while locating the Food Service and Health components at Burke. Compare Lowcountry Tech to Wando Center for Advanced Studies (CAS). What is there to compare?
Fast forwarding to the North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies, why not build at the Garrett location? Let me tell you why not. Garrett is no longer one of the district’s premier schools. They no longer hold their high national and state rankings. The district has not kept up with the school in terms of maintenance and high tech equipment. The enrollment is roughly 721 students and 98% are minority and 88% economically disadvantaged. The neighborhood surrounding the school is predominately black and there within lies the reason for not locating the Center for Advanced Studies at Garrett. The same thing happened when the Board voted to build North Charleston High School. The white parents did not want their children going to a school with a black history and in a black community. The white parents’ response to sending their children to Bonds Wilson was “the entrance to the school was “undesirable”. The Board closed Bonds Wilson and built North Charleston High at its present location. Some years later the entrance to Bonds Wilson was changed to a more “desirable entrance” on Mixon Avenue and the campus now houses the Academic Magnet and School of the Arts.
The Board plans to build the new Center for Advanced Studies on the Attaway-Heinsohn Stadium site. The community wants to keep the stadium. It’s in a central and convenient location for the community and students of North Charleston High School.
Here are a couple of reasons why CAS should be built at the Garrett site. Garrett is already a technology school. The outdated school can be razed and a showcase school along with the CAS addition built at the site. The school has the land.
The Board continues to make hasty and irrational decisions with little or no input from stakeholders and to spend taxpayers’ money irresponsibly. It would be interesting to see the cost estimate on building at the Garrett site as opposed to building at the Attaway-Heinsohn site, tearing down the stadium, purchasing land for a new stadium and transportation for students, particularly Stall students since the school will be district-wide.
The enrollment at North Charleston High and all of the majority black schools in the district will continue to be a problem in part due to the well-orchestrated plan by the Board not to educate all children equitably.
Charleston County School District will continue to be on the bottom in education until the district develops a plan of inclusion and recognizes the value of every student. The problem with being on the bottom is you can’t get up by yourself. If you knew how to get up you wouldn’t be there for as long as you have been. Am I making sense?
Let’s hold CCSD Board responsible and get our children off the bottom of the educational ladder. They need our help and deserve better.