Though their lawyers still seek an agreement, Riverview Charter School and the Beaufort County School District are scheduled to meet in court next week over an enrollment dispute.
The lawsuit, filed by the school in April, is to be heard Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. The suit seeks to clarify the terms of the school's contract with the district, which has been amended several times since it was granted conditional approval in 2008.
In dispute is the number of students the school could enroll during the current school year.
The county school board voted in November 2010 to limit Riverview's expansion for the 2011-12 school year to 38 students, bringing enrollment to 342 students.
But Riverview contends it should have been allowed to enroll an additional 76 students, bringing enrollment to 380.
The number of students enrolled in the school affects the amount of money it receives from the school district. Riverview director Alison Thomas has said the school receives about $9,000 per student from the district.
By only enrolling 342 students this year, Riverview had about $342,000 less than anticipated. It's not clear how much in expenses the school is expected to save from enrolling fewer students.
Riverview officials have said clarifying the contract is necessary so they can make long-term enrollment and budget projections.
Riverview officials have also said that limiting enrollment also makes it harder for the school to meet its minority enrollment goals, which are set by the federal Office for Civil Rights. Riverview is supposed to have a percentage of white and black students that approximates the districtwide percentage.
In December, Federal Circuit Court Judge Sol Blatt Jr. urged the district and school to resolve the issue before it went to trial.
Riverview board chairman Mike Freeman said the suit might not make it to court.
"As far as we are concerned, the settlement window has not closed," Freeman said.
School board chairman Fred Washington Jr. also expressed hope the suit wouldn't come to trial.
"There's still time between now and then," he said.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.
- Riverview, school district urged to reach agreement over enrollment lawsuit; Dec. 2, 2011
- Letter from the Riverview Board of Directors to parents, supporters about Judge Blatt's recommendation
- Riverview Charter to defy Beaufort County school board's cap on enrollment; Dec. 20, 2010
- Riverview sues school district over enrollment dispute; April 5, 2011