Coastal Montessori Charter School gains support
Up to two dozen more students will attend a new Montessori charter school in Pawleys Island since public interest has been better than organizers could have hoped.
In fact, the charter school, set to open in fall 2012 inside Waccamaw Middle School, will have one more class than planned, due to over-enrollment.
The Georgetown County School Board voted unanimously to approve a request for an additional class Tuesday at its regular meeting.
A crowd of about 50 people who came in support of the charter school applauded the decision.
Rob Horvath, chair of the Coastal Montessori Charter School board of directors, said he was very happy to hear the news.
“We are so glad that the school board has been willing to work so closely with us to give us this opportunity,” Horvath said. “Adding an extra class will allow us to serve more students and that has been our main goal.”
Coastal Montessori Charter School organizers say they received twice the number of applications needed for their upper elementary class (4th, 5th and 6th grades), and the other four classes were filled as well.
Originally, the school board approved four classes of lower elementary classes (grades 1, 2, and 3) and one upper elementary class.
Each class will have from 21 to 24 students and two teachers.
They received about 150 student applications, mostly from Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet, but also some in Georgetown and a few in Hemingway and Andrews.
Kristin Bohan, chair of the charter school planning committee, said a lottery that charter school organizers planned for this Thursday to choose students for the upper elementary class will no longer be needed.
She told the school board in her presentation that an additional upper elementary class will not only allow them to accept 21 to 24 more students, but it will help keep siblings together in the school within a school.
She also assured the board that the wing of Waccamaw Middle School can accommodate another class.
Jim Dumm, chair of the school board, said he is not at all surprised that the charter school has received such a big reaction from the community.
“It is an idea that has come into its own and the committee has worked hard to make sure it would be successful,” Dumm said.
When asked his opinion during the meeting, Dr. Randy Dozier, superintendent of local schools, said he recommended they move forward to allow another class.
“We do have the space and it will give us some flexibility,” Dozier said.
Dr. Arthur Lance asked Bohan about racial diversity, which the S.C. Department of Justice requires of public schools.
She stated that the first application could not ask about race, but as soon as students complete enrollment packets that information will be collected.
Land swapped for new Waccamaw library
The school board also voted unanimously to exchange land with Georgetown County which will allow for a larger library along Willbrook Boulevard in Pawleys Island. The new library will be called The Library Center — Waccamaw.
The school board is trading about four acres along Willbrook Boulevard and gaining more than seven acres near Waccamaw Intermediate School for future expansion.
By Clayton Stairs
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