About 80 students from Bridges Preparatory School will be assigned to portable classrooms to accommodate the charter school's expanding enrollment.
But adding the mobile classrooms in Beaufort's historic district will require the school to shield the mobile units from view, the city's Historic Review Board ruled Thursday.
The board approved the school's request to place two mobile units at its newly purchased site on 1100 Boundary St., the former Beaufort Boys & Girls Club facility.
The portable units do not meet the historic district's appearance guidelines, so the school and review board agreed to landscape around the units to disguise them, according to Bridges board member William Miley, who works in architecture and construction.
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"We want to expand with portables on this site while we prepare for its redevelopment and the construction of a long-term structure," Bridges board vice chairman Charlie Calvert said. "We want to make sure these are fitting with the town and character. But we also have to make sure it works with our budgets, school safety and planning."
The two portables -- each with two classrooms and their own bathrooms -- will be placed on the southwest corner of the property, behind the parking lot. They won't likely be ready until several weeks after school starts Aug. 18, Calvert said. The school will be able to accommodate the students during that time, but will be more comfortable once it has more space, he said.
The school, which opened last year, will serve students in kindergarten through seventh grade in the upcoming school year -- adding a grade each year up to 12th. Kindergarten and first grade will continue to be in leased space at the Charles Lind Brown Center.
As Bridges continues to add grades and students -- it will serve more than 400 during the upcoming school year -- it is outgrowing its current facility.
"The portables were a last resort for us, because our other options were falling through, and we needed the space," Miley said.
Review board chairman Joel Newman said the board will consider exempting the school from rules dictating how far back the units must be placed from the street and each other so that several live oaks can remain on the property.
Bridges does not yet have a cost estimate for the portable classrooms, Miley said. That will depend on how long they are leased and the cost of installation and landscaping.
The school likely will lease the units for three years, Calvert said. That is the maximum amount of time the review board will allow the portables on the property, in anticipation that the school's permanent facility will be completed by then.
School officials plan to meet with an architect in coming weeks about the design for the permanent campus. They also will meet with banks to finalize financing for the portable classrooms and construction of the new school, Miley said.
"This is just a temporary solution," he said, "and it allows us to keep most of the students on one campus so they don't feel separated."
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
- Bridges to get permanent home without consulting firm, May 28, 2014
- Bridges Prep to buy Boys & Girls Club by July 1, officials say, May 27, 2014
- Bridges Prep to buy Boys & Girls Club site, build permanent school, December 18, 2013
- Report: SC charter schools have inadequate access to facilities, amenities, November 17, 2013