Proposed charter school could open in fall 2013

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMarch 5, 2012 

Bridges Preparatory School, a proposed charter school in Beaufort County, is on track to open in the fall of 2013, organizers say.

Organizers plan to submit the charter application -- which includes curriculum proposals, enrollment projections and a five-year budget -- before the May 1 deadline.

Many of those details are already determined, chairwoman Ivie Szalai said.

The school will offer kindergarten through sixth grade and hopes to expand through high school by adding a grade each year. Szalai said the planned enrollment for its first year is 360 students -- three classes of kindergarten through third grade and two classes of grades fourth through sixth with 20 students in each class.

The committee, formed by a group of Shell Point Elementary School parents, had planned to open with a seventh-grade class but has since reconsidered because of budget concerns.

"We felt like we had to do what was going to sustain the school for the long run," Szalai said.

Decisions have been made about curriculum, as well. Charter committee vice chairwoman Amy Painton said the school will focus on character-based whole-child education.

It won't just be about memorizing facts, Painton said. Instead, school staff will promote lifelong skills, such as responsibility and accountability, that will prepare students to participate in their community, Painton said.

The school has partnered with the National Paideia Center, whose principles include inquiry-based learning.

All students will have plans tailored to their learning styles, such as visual or auditory learners, Szalai said.

Although the school's location hasn't been picked, Szalai said it probably will be in northern Beaufort County.

Outreach meetings could change that plan, if demand appears to be greater in southern Beaufort County, Szalai said.

The charter committee, consisting of about 15 people, is considering either renovating a building or finding land to build a modular school.

Szalai said several outreach meetings are in the works for March, but details haven't been confirmed. The committee has held three so far.

The group recently presented plans to the S.C. Public Charter School District, which it plans to join. That district's superintendent, Wayne Brazell, said Bridges Prep planners are further along than many of the 15 other charter school committees that made presentations.

To Painton, the progress is surprising.

"We're so excited it's coming together," she said. "If you had told me five months ago we would have gotten such a great reception from the state charter district, I wouldn't have believed you."

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content

  1. Charter school committee to host informational session; Dec. 15, 2011
  2. Charter school committee plans K-12 school; Nov. 21, 2011
  3. Charter school committee continues work on Shell Point replacement; Oct. 10, 2011
  4. Shell Point charter-school effort faces long climb; Aug. 12, 2011
  5. Bridges Preparatory School website
  6. National Paideia Center

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