MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Proposed changes to the zoning for Carolina Park Elementary School in north Mount Pleasant have some parents fighting back.
Jonathan Mars is one of the nearly 1,100 parents who have signed a petition asking CCSD leaders to not rezone the school.
“There’s a failure of the district to address overcrowding in our school. So because of that, they’re really creating options that are going to penalize a lot of kids in different parts of north Mt. Pleasant, notably here in Carolina Park,” explained Mars, a father of two children who attend Carolina Park Elementary.
The problem he, and other parents, want to draw attention to is that children who live closest to the school may not be able to attend depending on which, if any, rezoning option is chosen.
Mars says many kids walk or ride their bikes to Carolina Park Elementary and changing that would mean more traffic on other roadways like Park West Boulevard and Highway 17 which are already heavily congested with school traffic during certain hours of the day.
“Don’t take kids away from the school that they live closest to. In Carolina Park right now there are people who don’t live here who will be able to send their kids here but people that live closest to it can’t,” said Mars. “So we think geography should play a role. Don’t make parents drive by their school every day, take their kids off their bikes, and bring them to a school that they don’t need to go to because there’s one right here.”
The Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) Department of Planning and Real Estate provided board members with three options for the proposed rezoning at a meeting on May 18. They are below:
The district said with residential growth in north Mount Pleasant, they’re expecting the population at Carolina Park Elementary to reach its peak during the fiscal year 2025. Projections from the district show the peak at 1,051 students before slowly falling back down in the following years. Carolina Park Elementary’s capacity is 968 students.
“So, there’s an overcrowding issue but then if you look at their forecast, I’m also wondering, and other parents are wondering, why we can’t use portable classrooms to kind of fix that two-year delta where the population starts to decline,” said Mars.
If rezoning should occur, students impacted would be transferred to Laurel Hill Primary School or Charles Pinckney Elementary School which are both located in Park West.
Below are attendance predictions for both schools:
Another question parents are asking is why Carolina Park Elementary can’t be expanded to accommodate a growing population.
According to the website for the Carolina Park neighborhood, the school is “expandable to 1,200.”
During the 2020 general election, Charleston County voters chose to implement a 1% sales and use tax to fund education projects. In a long list of projects included on the ballot, number 3 on the list was “Design, construct and equip an expansion at Carolina Park Elementary School.”
“If you want to feed kids that don’t live in Carolina Park, or don’t even live in Mt. Pleasant, into this school, then you need to expand it,” said Mars. “And there was a one percent tax in 2020 where this was one of the things that when they funded education that was going to be taken care of.”
If pushed forward, this would be the second rezoning in the school’s five years of operation. A rezoning plan was adopted in 2020 and put into effect for the 2021-2022 school year because of the same reasons.
News 2 reached out to CCSD for an interview, but the district was unavailable.
CCSD is looking for public input on this proposal at their next regularly scheduled board meeting which will be held on August 23rd at 6 p.m.
After that, the board will take comments into consideration and is expected to make a final decision later in the fall.
Carolina Park Elementary opened in 2017 and is rated “Excellent” by the state Department of Education. The land for the school was donated to the town by Carolina Park.