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Burke is No Dumping Ground
11/7/2012 12:13:10 PM

Arthur Lawrence

By Arthur Lawrence

A group of people are pushing to allow yet another broken promise in District 20.  It seems that supporters of the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science (or CCSMS) are lobbying for the Charleston County School District to have Low Country Tech situated at the Rhett Building of Burke's campus rather than its intended home - sharing space with CCSMS on Rivers campus. 

Low Country Tech is designed to teach state of the art technical skills, and will be available to students throughout Charleston County.  Students of Low Country Tech will take classes at the Tech's campus, and go back to their school in which they are permanently enrolled. 

This plan has been five years in the making.  And the Charleston Charter School promised at their inception five years ago to occupy no more than 60 % of Rivers campus while Low Country Tech occupy the other 40%. 

Well, it seems that - to some people - five years is long enough for people to forget that this promise was made.  Today, some from the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science want Low Country Tech to be at Burke.

One must wonder why these folks don't want to keep their promise to the District and the community: shouldn't a school welcome any other group of students who want a place to call home to learn high tech skills that will help them get jobs?  You would think CCSMS would be empathetic to Low Country Tech. 

The Charleston Charter School faced opposition as it developed from its founding committee in 2007.  I thought CCSMS, which was established to provide education to a diverse student population would welcome any school who had the same concept in mind.

Those who do not want Low Country Tech on the Rivers campus want it in the Rhett Building, which sits on Burke's campus.  In case you missed it, Burke's Middle School students had been moved out of the Rhett Building at the end of the last school year and are now sharing the main building with the high school students. 

The Rhett Building is vacant.  To have Low Country Tech at Burke would be a distraction to the failing school, a school whose leaders had to go before the State Board of Education just this past summer to plead to not be taken over by the state for consecutive years of subpar academic performance. 

It is bad enough that our only non charter public middle school has to be crammed into Burke's main building with the high school students, but to add the distraction of yet another program at Burke at this time would just be too much. 

Why must Burke be a dumping ground?  Why must Burke be a place of default when a promise is broken?  All schools should be a place of refuge, not refuse!  Right now, Burke needs to have all of its energy focused on meeting the academic needs of its current students. 

Have all of Burke's students been tested to determine their current reading, writing, and math levels?  This would never happen in District 2, under the watchful eyes of the East Cooper parents!  District 2 schools are consistently respected and accommodated at very little waste.   And what about all of the money that has gone into the construction on the Rivers campus to accommodate Low Country Tech?  Why make a move that will only cost millions of dollars more?

The Charleston County School Board will discuss and likely vote on where Low Country Tech calls home at the next Board Meeting, to be held Monday, November 12, 2012, 5pm, at 75 Calhoun Street.  It is imperative that we attend and give our community input on our neighborhood schools.

I support high tech education, but I also support making Burke a better school.  That can only happen when Burke's Principal Mr. Maurice Cannon, Burke's teachers, students and parents are given the opportunity to focus only on accommodating Burke.    Let Principal Cannon decide how best the Rhett Building will serve his students.  This community was given the promise that Mr. Cannon will meet with us at the January 24, 2013 Westside Neighborhood Community Meeting (held inside Burke's Media Center at 7pm) to outline for us his plans for the Rhett Building - unless that is yet another promise that will be broken.

Respectfully submitted,

Mr. Arthur Lawrence


Westside Neighborhood Association




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