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County Charter School nears fruition Print E-mail

Pat Anduze, Dr. Albertha Krakue and Glenda Barnett met last week with the SC Charter School Advisory Committee for a final hearing on their application to form The Bamberg County Charter School for Academic Excellence. The Committee agreed to issue the ten-year charter under the condition that by Dec. 2 the group respond to nine issues that warranted further clarification. According to Ms. Barnett, this information has been completed and will be forwarded to the Committee by the deadline.

In December, 2007 the BCCS competed with 19 other charter school applicants for a start-up Charter School Grant. The Bamberg County Charter School for Academic Excellence was notified in February, 2008 that that they were one of 13 recipients of the $440,000 grant. $5,000 of these funds were made immediately available to fund training, research, and development in starting a Charter School.

The grant application “has been a complex and arduous process,” Anduze explained. “Applicants must first outline the school’s construction, mission statement, curriculum, expected enrollment and level of parental involvement, among other items. The Charter application,” she said, “submitted to the state for review and approval is an even more detailed process.

“We are currently looking at two possible sites for the new Charter School,” Barnett said. “We have not yet settled on just the right site though we intend that it be as centrally located within the county as possible.”

"We are not adversarial to public schools, frankly, we are a public school," said Anduze. “Though we will be concentrating on enrollment countywide and adjacent areas like Blackville and Norway. We can, because of the statewide district charter (South Carolina Public Charter District), enroll students from anywhere in the state.”

Using state-of-the-art and approved by the SC Department of Education modular classrooms and administration facilities, with a start date of June, 2009 with an enrollment of K-5, the charter school will add a grade each year to grade 12.

South Carolina had recently added a statewide charter school authorizer entity known as the South Carolina Public Charter District (SCPCSD), to its original charter school legislation passed in 1996.

With no original provision for alternative authorization, heretofore charter schools in South Carolina have developed slowly. Twenty-nine were in operation after the first eleven years of the passage of the South Carolina Charter School Law. 2007 amendments to the State’s Charter School Law have added an alternative authorizer (the SCPCSD), a ten-year term of charter, and the ability to charter and operate cyber charter public charter schools. SCPCSD demands accountability and quality as a condition of chartering and oversight. This leaves charter schools in need of additional resources dedicated to accountability and quality.

Charter schools are independent public schools designed and operated by educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs and others. They are sponsored by designated organizations that monitor their quality and effectiveness but allow them to operate outside of the traditional system of public schools.

The funding will provide for the planning, design, implementation and exchange of information on charter schools. Charter schools are largely free of state laws and regulations. They are meant to inspire innovations in education.

Charter Schools, however, are measured by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The schools are tuition-free and can hire non-certified teachers, though 20% of teachers must be SC teacher-certified. Charter schools are meant to inspire innovation in education, and can be set up by a group of parents or by a traditional school district. They are governed by a board of parents and employees and can receive state and federal money just like traditional public schools. Charter schools are a promising means for generating higher student achievement.

The State Board has been assigned by statute a strategic role to ensure that this promise of higher student achievement is realized within a context of sound educational programs and practices, proper financial management, and certain specific requirements of law.

Just as with the traditional public school, charter schools must meet or exceed compliance with state and national educational goals. "We are now recruiting potential students for grades K-5 (five-year old) to 5th grade,” Anduze said, “and looking for highly qualified teachers, both state certified and non-certified. Interested parties can call 803.793.4544 or 803.793.0759 for more information and application.

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