NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – North Charleston is studying the possibility of taking over schools within its city limits from the Charleston County School District.

Mayor Keith Summey said he is simply not satisfied with the job Charleston County School District is doing to educate the students who attend North Charleston schools.

“We’re just in an information-gathering position right now,” explained Mayor Summey. “Some of the council members have discussed what would it take for us to take over the schools in North Charleston.”

The city’s legal team is actively looking at what can be done.

“It’s a little even more complicated because we have two school districts in the city,” he said. We’re not looking at Dorchester District 2.”

Mayor Summey said they are satisfied with DD2 schools located in city limits. But as for the others…

“I think that council is concerned about the number of failing schools that we have,” he noted.

Summey believes taking over the schools would not cost the city financially, since they would get school taxes for the nearly 30 schools impacted. He envisions schools would be another department under the mayor’s office.

The South Carolina Statehouse would have to change state law allowing the takeover; however, Mayor Summey said they just cannot just continue to do nothing while schools fail.

“I don’t know why, what’s causing it, but it needs to be reconciled,” he said.

Mayor Summey said he has not reached out to or heard from Charleston County Schools regarding the proposal.

“Haven’t heard from them yet- would love to sit down with them. I think they’ve, according to the news this morning, they’re having trouble determining who is the chair. I think there’s at three chairs since January so.”

Mayor Summey went on to say, “At the end of the day, if they can show us they are going to enhance what’s going on in North Charleston then we are a winner as well. It’s about our kids and about them getting the proper education.”

The schools that would potentially be impacted by the change include the following:

Elementary Schools

  • A.C. Corcoran Elementary
  • Burns Elementary
  • Chicora Elementary
  • Dunston Primary
  • Goodwin Elementary
  • Hursey Elementary
  • Hunley Park Elementary
  • Ladson Elementary
  • Lambs Elementary
  • Mary Ford Elementary
  • Midland Park Primary
  • North Charleston Elementary
  • North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary
  • Pepperhill Elementary
  • Pinehurst Elementary

Middle Schools

  • Daniel Jenkins Creative Learning Center
  • Military Magnet Academy
  • Morningside Middle
  • Northwoods Middle
  • Jerry Zucker Middle School of Science

High Schools

  • Academic Magnet High School
  • Garrett Academy of Technology
  • Greg Mathis Charter High School
  • Military Magnet Academy
  • North Charleston High School
  • R.B. Stall High School
  • Charleston County School of the Arts
  • Palmetto Scholars Academy (Grade 6-12, State School District Charter)

Mayor Summey said if they decide to move forward with the proposal, it could be on the referendum for residents to vote on in the 2024 election.

The Charleston County School District provided the following statement to News 2:

“Mayor Keith Summey’s proposal to withdraw North Charleston schools from the Charleston County School District (CCSD) and instead house them in a department within the City of North Charleston would fail students. Such would duplicate administrative costs and result in less funding per pupil for both academic support and capital improvement.

Mayor Summey’s assertion that the City contributes more than what it receives from CCSD is untrue. In fact, North Charleston has historically received well above the CCSD average funding for construction and facilities maintenance.

North Charleston’s schools currently account for 30.32% of the District’s total student population yet receive approximately 35.6% of funds allocated for schools. In addition, the average budgeted per-pupil allocation in FY2023 for North Charleston schools was $16,645.18 compared to  that for all other CCSD schools at $14,171.06; isolating North Charleston’s schools served through Acceleration Schools boasts a $19,532.61 per-pupil allocation.  

Claims that academic efforts in North Charleston schools have not been successful are also misleading. Most recently, for example, three North Charleston schools were removed from the state improvement designation list while others made significant gains.  

Rather than benefiting students, withdrawing schools from CCSD would exacerbate educational disparities between geographic areas that CCSD has worked to address. Likewise, the assertion that creating a smaller district would ensure children in North Charleston have greater opportunities is simply misguided. Smaller schools and smaller districts have historically been less-able to offer such access and opportunity.

The District calls on Mayor Summey to address his concerns directly with CCSD leadership so that adults can avoid negative outcomes for students, parents, and educators. The Mayor has not reached out to the District directly since February 2022, after which he and Superintendent Kennedy met with other District and City officials.

For additional context, here is a link to a follow-up letter sent by CCSD to Mayor Summey from April 2022.”