SOURCE: South Carolina Public Charter School District

South Carolina Public Charter School District

August 25, 2015 08:30 ET

Charter Schools All About Choice

SC Public Charter School District Delivers Quality Alternatives to Traditional Public Schools, Regardless of Residence

CHARLESTON, SC--(Marketwired - Aug 25, 2015) - Historically, for many families, public school offered little choice. You lived in a town, school zones were established, and your children attended the school dictated by the local district.

In the past two decades, however, choices have emerged for primary education, allowing parents to select not just an alternate school offering an exceptional education, but maybe even one with a curriculum better suited to the student's aptitude or career goals. Called charter schools, these institutes of learning have taken hold because they have unshackled parents and children.

"For the first time, a ZIP code no longer dictated what school a child had to attend," says Dr. Wayne Brazell, superintendent of the South Carolina Public Charter School District (SCPCSD). "And the concept has evolved to include both brick-and-mortar facilities and virtual schools."

The SCPCSD was created by the South Carolina legislature in 2006, and began operating for the 2008-2009 school year, initially with five schools serving a total of 2,000 students. The District now includes 32 schools, with approximately 17,000 students, covering the spectrum of pre-k through Grade 12. There is no tuition for a public charter school.

While many charter schools teach the standard college-preparatory programs found in the public schools, some schools in the District have innovative themes or methods of teaching.For example, East Point Academy in Columbia is a dual-immersion Mandarin Chinese school, while GREEN Charter School in Greenville focuses on renewable energy. Coastal Leadership Academy in Myrtle Beach employs project-based learning, and High Point Academy in Spartanburg offers a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum with an added focus on Fine Arts.

"Staying motivated plays heavily into student success, and by being able to match the curriculum and school's mission with the interests or capabilities of the student, there's potential for greater achievement and growth," Brazell says.

With great choice comes great challenges
Because local tax dollars don't follow the student, charter schools are funded by state appropriation, currently in the amount of $1,900 per student in a virtual school, and $3,600 per student in a brick-and-mortar school. By law, the district office can only retain two percent of state funds to operate at the district level. The other 98 percent must go directly to the schools. 

Because there is no local tax base, funding is a constant challenge for charter schools. Despite the fact every charter school facility must meet the requirements of the state Department of Education and comply with state building requirements, charter schools receive no state funds for facilities, nor do they receive funds for the transportation of students to such facilities.

Financial challenges notwithstanding, SCPCSD is committed to providing a desirable alternative to the local public school for many families, and helping countless students fulfill their potential. In fact, it plans to continue expanding.

"One of the district's main functions is hearing applications for new schools. We have a team of experienced staff members and external evaluators whose job is to evaluate applications for completeness, compliance, and capacity to establish and operate a successful school," says Laura Bayne, director of communications for SCPCSD. "While the evaluation team makes a recommendation to the board of trustees, it's the board that makes the final determination as to whether or not to approve an application for a charter school."

Concurrent with expansion, the District is also ratcheting up its visibility among parents, educators and students. To that end, it recently underwent a rebranding to better convey its mission, including new colors and a new logo highlighted by a stylized palmetto tree and cross section of an open book.

"The open book evokes wings, and that's intentional, as our goal is to give students the wings they need to soar in life," says Brazell, "regardless of where in the state they happen to live."

For more information on the SCPCSD, visit www.sccharter.org, or call 803-734-8322

Superintendent:
Wayne Brazell, Ph.D.

Board of Directors:
Don McLaurin, Chairman
Linzie Staley, Vice Chairman
Kathleen Bounds, Secretary
Betty Bagley
Reese Boyd, Esq.
Anne Bull
Laban Chappell
Ronald Epps, Ph.D.
John Payne

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Laura J. Bayne
    Director of Communications
    Email: Email Contact
    Phone: 803-734-8326
    Fax: 803-734-8325