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School District Proposed "Expansion" Of Lowcountry High Tech Is Bogus, Deceptive, and False!
9/10/2014 4:24:27 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

On Monday CUPS (Citizens United for Public Schools) held a press conference and later attended the school board meeting at 75 Calhoun Street to publicly oppose a proposal presented by staff member, Michael Bobby, “to approve the “expansion” of the established and successful Lowcountry Tech Academy curriculum and instruction into West Ashley High, North Charleston High and Burke High School in order to more fully accomplish its mission that all students will have access to and experience innovative, collaborative and challenging programs.” First, let’s not be confused by the term “expansion”.

Expansion is the new terminology for closing. The proposal is the latest attempt by some Charleston County School Board members to close Lowcountry Tech Academy. If the classes are placed at other area high schools, Burke, West Ashley & North Charleston High, the district would have to pay additional monies to redesign classrooms to meet state requirements and specifications at the various sites where they plan to transfer career and technology Education (CTE). Bobby’s proposal to save money the district money after having spent millions of dollars to renovate and construct classrooms to CTE specification at the Rivers campus is bogus.

When the Interdenomination Ministers Alliance Education Committee approached the Board with a comprehensive plan for high tech careers, the Rivers School Building was vacant. The committee requested a high tech school but was later granted a “program”. The site was chosen because of its central location and large yard space that could be used to install outbuildings for Aviation, Auto Collision Repair and Building Construction & Green Technology. Other CTE courses proposed were Heath and Information & Computer Technology.

The recent proposal to relocate CTE courses points to transportation, scheduling and high per pupil expenditures at Lowcountry Tech as the reasons for the so called “expansion”. The cost is no higher than at some of the other smaller or failing schools that are majority minority occupied. Technology costs but the advantages to students far outweigh the costs. Costs only become a factor in majority minority schools. The board recently spent over $45 million to build an Advance Studies Center at Wando in Mt. Pleasant while still needing a new high school. Another $800,000 was spent on a covered walkway at Wando that was not in the budget and in a “Facts” report from CCSD presented to Mt. Pleasant Town Council, a whopping $375 million has been spent and budgeted to spend on schools in Mt. Pleasant District #2 from 1997 through 2016. Lincoln High School is located in District 1 and is not included in the $375 million. Supporters of Lincoln High School flooded the school board Monday evening demanding a new school and that the school is placed at the top of the agenda.

In 2007, former school board member Arthur Ravenel presented six recommendations that the Board voted upon and approved. One of the recommendations was that the Rivers Building be shared by Lowcountry Tech and Math Science Charter, 40% and 60% respectively. Math Science Charter received more “perks” in its initial set up stages than any other Charter School in the state of SC. And, the school continues to receive preferential treatment. The Board directed the superintendent to “complete the renovations and co-plan the educational specifications according to the design of Low Country High Tech and the Math and Science Charter School”. One of the recommendations approved on top of a proposed reduced rent, that was less than market rate, was that “CCSD further agrees to reduce the required annual payment by fifty percent every year in which the charter group enrollment includes at least forty percent of students who are eligible for “free and reduced meals”.

The shared use of the Rivers campus has resulted in the establishment of two good schools and opened the door for positive interactions between students who might not otherwise relate to each other. However, because of Math Science Charter School’s constant appeal to the CCSD Board for more space to move students out of mobile classrooms into the Rivers Building, and some Board members underhanded tactics to accommodate their request, a wedge has been driven between the two schools. Lowcountry Tech continues to fight to save its highly successful program that has proven to be life changing for many students and Math Science Charter continues their fight to push Lowcountry Tech out of the Rivers Building so they can expand their program—growing their program. That’s what Webster defines as the true meaning of “expansion”. What the Board is proposing to do with Lowcountry Tech, Webster defines as “bogus, misleading, deceptive, and false”.

CUPS position is CCSD Board has approved the dual occupancy of the building and that approval should stand and not be revisited each year. Never in the history of the establishment of charter schools in the district has the Board been so unrelenting in their support and funding for a charter school over a true public school program in the case of Lowcountry Tech.

Every child matters! Unfortunately every child is not receiving a quality an equitable education.

Do not be deceived by the Board’s claim to “expand” the Lowcountry Tech at other sites. It’s just another bogus attempt to close the school.

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