The Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence will continue operating through the 2018-2019 school year, and with a new Marine Technology program, under a new agreement between the two counties.
The Beaufort County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve the agreement for the joint technical school following its closed-door, executive session. Jasper County’s school board approved the agreement on Monday.
The board did not reveal details of its new plans for the school’s operation at the meeting but did say the new Marine Tech curriculum was recently approved by the S.C. Department of Education. In a news release Tuesday evening, the district said it had replaced its 42-year-old contract with a new operational structure in which ACE would be supervised by the two districts’ superintendents, Beaufort County’s Jeff Moss and Jasper County’s Donald Andrews.
Beaufort County’s district will continue to pay two-thirds of ACE’s operating costs, and Jasper County will pay one-third, until June 30, 2019. When the two-year agreement is over, the Jasper County School District will have the option to purchase the Beaufort County School District’s 50 percent share of the property for half of its appraised value, the news release said.
As recently as November, the board was singing a very different tune when it came to ACE.
The school, located in the Okatie-Ridgeland area, was slated to lose two-thirds of its funding — Beaufort County’s share of the $2.8 million budget — at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
Numerous times over the past year, the Beaufort County school board has reiterated its intention to dissolve its ACE contract with the Jasper County school board.
Still, just last week, Jasper County School District superintendent Donald Andrews said he was planning for his system’s future with ACE in mind and was confident the aging technical school, which serves about 475 students, could still provide Jasper County students with a quality career and technology education.
Next school year, ACE will offer automotive repair, barbering, building construction, cosmetology, law enforcement services and plant and animal services, among other possibilities. It will come under Moss and Andrews’ supervision Jan. 1, with members of the ACE Board of Education becoming committee members who meet quarterly with the superintendents.
For the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, the superintendents will determine student enrollment, with up to two-thirds being Beaufort County students and up to one-third being Jasper County students, according to the district news release.
If either district doesn’t fill its quota, the other district can enroll additional students.