CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board is set to vote Monday on a proposed plan that would bring big changes to the district.
The ‘Reimagine Schools’ proposal from the non-profit Coastal Community Foundation would cost the school district around $32 million over the course of 10 years, the goal being to “close the student achievement gap and support academic recovery efforts for students,” according to the foundation.
The way of going about that, the non-profit says, is by getting local perspective and community input on what’s happening in the classroom, specifically in 23 CCSD schools.
If approved, CCSD and CCF would work to appoint parents, board members, faith groups and other community organization members to groups called Innovation Commissions. These groups would, in turn, get the community more involved with decision-making, CCF says.
The funding proposal has been receiving a lot of attention over the past month, both in favor of the plan and in opposition, even seeing a petition started against the plan a few days after the initial proposal.
Other feedback from community members show concern about the price tag, the quick turnaround on the vote and the concern that CCF doesn’t have prior experience working with schools, which the president of CCF even admits, but he says the goal isn’t to run schools.
“We have no experience at running schools, and as a matter of fact, we don’t want to run schools,” Darrin Goss, President and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, says. “But we want schools that are well-run and focused on the specific needs of children.”
“That’s what we’re advocating for, and I think we should honor the requests and the will of those communities, those parents, those administrators in carrying that out. That’s what we’re focused on,” Goss says.
If approved Monday, CCF says then begins that process of “appointing community members to commissions and collecting community feedback about what’s working or not working at their schools.”
The Monday afternoon meeting has a public comment period. Click here for the meeting agenda.
CCF released the following statement Sunday prior to the vote:
The Reimagine Schools proposal is above all else an inclusive community engagement process to ensure that local parents, teachers and community members are empowered to decide what changes should be pursued at their schools that have long been designated as in-need of improvement. If the proposal is approved Monday, that simply begins a process of appointing community members to commissions and collecting community feedback about what’s working or not working at their schools. All district residents in these areas would be invited and encouraged to lend their perspectives and provide input throughout the commission process.
Every potential school model and possible outcome that is in the Reimagine Schools proposal is already an option that any of these schools can pursue today. What this proposal aims to do is ensure that the district has a proactive process for community engagement, so that any potential changes are directed first and foremost by the community that is most affected, and secondly to ensure that those decisions are made with consideration of the other schools in that community’s feeder pattern. Currently, the state Schools of Innovation law does not require a principal or school district to collect that community input before pursuing waivers, and that is why we are advocating for that process to be installed on the local level.
The proposal does include the possibility of forming a new Innovation Management Organization within the district to which schools opting to become nonprofit-managed schools of innovation could be assigned for the purpose of administration. As a Foundation, we believe there are merits to this school management model – specifically in schools that are inviting in a change to give teachers and principals more autonomy and flexibility to meet their students’ specific needs and circumstances. However, Reimagine Schools as a proposal does not aim to prescribe this as an outcome. We think that is a very important distinction because we never want the Foundation or any other entity to do things to the community. We believe very strongly in doing things with the community. If a community commission decides one or all of its schools need no changes whatsoever, then that is a perfectly legitimate outcome of Reimagine Schools.”
The meeting is set to begin at 4 p.m.
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