The Beaufort County School District hopes to balance enrollment among county schools by enticing students to transfer to under-enrolled buildings with new programs.
Staff recommended four options to the Board of Education on Friday.
The board voted to allow district administrators to explore developing Montessori programs in some schools with excess capacity.
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Eight board members voted to approve the concept.
Joan Deery opposed it; Jim Bequette and George Wilson abstained. They raised concerns about the expense of adding new programs when the district faces a potential budget shortfall.
The district will gauge community interest and then bring a proposal to the board for consideration in January, said Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief.
The board unanimously approved a change to the structure of Battery Creek High School that would divide it into three units: an Academy of Military Science and Leadership Development; an Academy of Information Technology and Engineering; and an Academy of Arts and Humanities.
High school students living outside the school's attendance zone would be allowed to transfer to the school's specialty programs, which would include an emphasis on aerospace science.
The district suggested the board consider offering an Advanced Math, Engineering and Science magnet program at Pritchardville Elementary School near Bluffton.
An AMES Academy for gifted and talented students now is offered at Beaufort Elementary School.
The district suggested Hilton Head Island High School's International Baccalaureate program be better marketed to attract students from other parts of the county.