School board committee recommends several programs for school choice

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comDecember 3, 2013 

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If the Beaufort County School District allows parents and students to choose a school based on its programs, at least two questions must be answered first:

What will those programs be?

And how they will be chosen?

To answer those questions, the board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee approved a list of ten options that it will recommend to the full board for approval at Tuesday's meeting.

"I think it should be an exciting prospect to be able to create a niche that people come to you for," committee chairwoman Geri Kinton said. "It gives the schools an identity and a chance to prove themselves and shine in ways that other schools can't."

The options include some options already available in the district such as the International Baccalaureate, arts infused and dual language immersion programs. Some options that would be new to the county including a classical studies program and college and career cluster communities plan.

Jennifer Morillo, the district's director of teaching and learning, said the list was compiled based on many conversations with district staff and board members and feedback from parents.

"These initial choice options seem to be the most prevalent ones ... based on many different discussions that have taken place," Morillo said. "The list takes into account what's already going on in the district and what's going well, in addition to some research-based models that have shown to be successful."

All schools in the district will maintain a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics focus -- a program that normally might have been a choice option.

All schools would also be required to offer a core program including fine and performing arts, world language and technology.

Schools can also submit programs left off the option list, superintendent Jeffrey Moss said.

The next step is for principals to discuss the program they want with staff.

Parents will also be part of that process, Moss said.

A survey will be sent home before the end of the year, and results are expected by mid-January.

Programs for two new Bluffton schools -- a grade nine through twelve high school and a preK through eighth grade elementary school expected to open in fall 2015 -- will also be determined.

Morillo said the goal is to have the programs in place by the start of next school year. That will allow parents and students to make decisions and schools preparations.

Approved School Choice Options

Here are the options the Beaufort County School Board is considering:

  • Advanced Math Engineering and Science Academy (AMES)
  • Arts infused program
  • Classical studies program
  • Montessori program
  • Dual language immersion program
  • International Baccalaureate program
  • Project Lead the Way and Gateway to Technology (PLTW and GTT)
  • College and Career Cluster Communities program
  • High School Academies program
  • Early College program

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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