'Failing' schools stay under CCSD; Recovering district proposed

By Stefanie

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) --{}Both schools were listed as "persistently failing" and faced a potential state takeover. Burke Middle and North Charleston High School were ranked as two of the worst performing schools in the state.

As a result, Burke Middle School and North Charleston High School were forced to report to the State Board of Education on Wednesday.

The board decided against a state management takeover on Wednesday{}and recommended instead that{}the two schools stay under district control -- while receiving state technical support and advice.

Charleston County Superintendent of Education Dr. Nancy McGinley, along with Burke and North Charleston principals, pitched to the board on Wednesday to give them more time to turn things around.

With PowerPoint presentations and charts, Dr. McGinley showed the progress the district has made while also stressing the need for stability in the two failing schools. She suggested extending principal contracts from one year to three.

"We have strong leaders, strong faculties, and we are asking for the chance to hold our faculty's accountability. Give our principals three years to turn these schools around, and if someone can do that faster I can't find them yet," Dr. Nancy McGinley said.

Dr. McGinley says she doesn't mind being held accountable, but says she wants the chance to stay the course.

"Consistency is the big solution. Meeting our students where they are, understanding that our students are in need of people who care and showing them we care; knowing we are going to be patient while they are developing into citizens we know they can be," said Burke Middle and High{}School principal, Maurice Cannon.

"I want all of our schools to be rated excellent, and the fact that we have schools that have not made the improvements that others have made doesn't make me feel good," Dr. McGinley said. "All I can say is we have work to do, and we're committed to doing it."

State Superintendent Mick Zais announced on Wednesday that he wants to create a new statewide school district. The move would be separate from the Department of Education, and exist for recovering failing schools.

Burke and North Charleston schools would be part of this new turnaround district if the proposal is approved by legislators in the fall.