New school buildings set to open Wednesday; another delayed

By Valencia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - When Dr. Teresa Turner walked into the new Memminger Elementary School, what she saw was very different than what was seen three years ago.

"Thick paint on the walls, some lead still on the window seals, a lot of critters," said Turner. "It wasn't clean."

Officials said Memminger was one of four schools deemed to be unsafe in case of an earthquake. Because of that, Memminger, Buist Academy, Charleston Progressive and James Simons were forced to move off the Charleston peninsula to Mount Pleasant and North Charleston.

"I could not help but think back three years ago when I stood on this very ground in the old cafeteria of the old Memminger with its low ceilings and loud air conditioners and not so beautiful surroundings, with parents who frankly did not want to change schools," said Dr. Nancy McGinley, superintendent for Charleston County schools.

"We lost a lot of children whose parents did not want to make the move to North Charleston," said Turner. "We had lost some teachers who didn't want to make the move to North Charleston."

The 2013-2014 school year means a clean slate for the students, teachers and administrators of those four schools.

"We've worked around the clock," said Turner. "It's all been worth it and our teachers have been amazing. They've been here everyday, on the weekends, whenever we open the doors."

Teachers have been working diligently to ensure the new classrooms are ready to welcome students bright and early Wednesday.

James Simons is the only school that will not open Monday. Heavy rain delayed the construction work. Still, officials say the school will open in October.

McGinley says the new school buildings are a testament to Charleston's dedication.

"It also is an inspiration to the community, to the neighbors who live near by and to the visitors who walk by this school," said McGinley. "They will forever more know how much Charlestonians value education."