Beaufort News

Enrollment dispute between Riverview, Beaufort County School District could end

The Beaufort County School District and Riverview Charter School may have reached an agreement that would end a yearlong dispute over how many students the school can enroll.

The Board of Education is expected to vote today on a proposed amendment to Riverview's charter agreement that incorporates a federal judge's ruling into the district's contract with the school.

Under the amendment, which was unanimously approved by Riverview's board April 24, the school will be allowed to enroll 456 students next school year and 494 students in the 2013-14 school year.

Enrollment beyond 2013-14 would need to be agreed upon by both the school board and Riverview's board.

"The enrollment can't be changed without agreement of both boards," Riverview board chairman Mike Freeman said. "For us, that means they can't cut our enrollment, either."

The amendment is similar to a U.S. District Court judge's February ruling in a lawsuit Riverview brought against the district.

The Board of Education appealed the ruling in March. School board Chairman Fred Washington Jr. said then the appeal was about bringing clarity and closure to the case. On Monday, Washington said the school board's approval of the amendment would end the appeal.

The lawsuit has cost Riverview about $55,000 since it was filed in March 2011, Riverview director Alison Thomas said.

District figures on the lawsuit's cost were unavailable Monday.

The amendment also includes a clause that says the way Riverview chooses to configure its grades should not be considered a guarantee for future enrollment increases.

The original proposed amendment, which the Board of Education approved in March, called for Riverview to have three classes per grade level, in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Washington said the shift gives Riverview the flexibility it wanted in configuring the school.

"The key is what the total numbers will be," Washington said.

Riverview plans four classes in kindergarten and first grade, three classes in second and third grade and two classes in fourth through eighth grades next school year, Thomas said.

Thomas met with Washington, Superintendent Valerie Truesdale and other district and Riverview officials on April 18 to reach the agreement.

"I thought it was great that we all came together and had the opportunity to have a conversation and put pen to paper together," Thomas said.

Washington said that though he had not yet discussed the proposed amendment with the school board, he expects the board to approve it today.

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  3. Judge rules in favor of Riverview in Beaufort County enrollment dispute; Feb. 1, 2012