Meeting Street Academy creating proposal to run public school

By Gregory Woods

NORTH CHARLESTON, S. C. (WCIV) -- In the past six years, Meeting Street Academy has proven it can run a private school geared toward low-income students and yield the same results as its wealthier counterparts.

The school credits its success to the four pillars.

"Our model is based on parental involvement, holistic education, teacher excellence and starting the kids young," said Chris Allen, spokesperson for the Meeting Street Education Group.

This includes things such as starting a child's education at 3 years old and making parents sign parental-involvement contracts.

The school's style of teaching caught the eyes of the Charleston County School District, and since school overcrowding is a hot topic for the district, a partnership between the two could be on the horizon to help alleviate congested schools.

The partnership between a public and private school would be the first of its kind in the state.

The school board recently approved a request for the school to put together a proposal to turn Brentwood Middle School into an elementary school to help relieve overpopulated classrooms.

If the plan is approved in January, the school would implement the four pillars at the public school, an arena where they will not be able to pre-interview families, or create their own by-laws, which the officials are able to do now as a private academy.

Allen said implementing their platform still can be done effectively.

"We believe that by doing little things like visiting the home of every student zoned to go to Brentwood before it opens, having more consistent communication between the classroom and home, creates a demand that all parents and teachers should expect of one another," said Allen.

Superintendent Nancy McGinley is excited about the possible partnership, but believes the plan must be written precisely to be approved by the school board.

"The plan will need to detail in writing what the relationship looks like in terms of funding, responsibility for school operations and how we will hold them accountable," she said.

If the proposal is approved, McGinley said she trusts Meeting Street Academy will hold up to its end of the bargain. But venturing into new territory always has its share of reservations.

"You always have some anxiety with something that's never been tried before, but I have a high level of trust with Meeting Street Academy," said McGinley . Public dollars can only go so far and if individuals who have their own resources really want to bring about change we are going to have to see a new level of investment to bring about that change."

If the school board approves the proposal, the new North Charleston school would open for the 2014-2015 school year.

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