Beaufort News

Local charter schools to conduct enrollment lotteries

Three area charter schools plan enrollment lotteries soon because they have more applicants than spots available.

Here is information about Bridges Preparatory, Riverview and Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences.


Bridges Preparatory, which plans to open this fall in Beaufort, received 317 applicants for 180 spots available for kindergarten, fourth, fifth and sixth grades, said charter committee chairwoman Ivie Szalai. Those applying for first through third grades will automatically be offered enrollment because applications did not exceed spots available in those grades, she said.

The school's charter was approved in July by South Carolina's statewide charter school district. It plans to open with 360 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The student body will grow as a new grade is added each year until the school goes through 12th grade.

Enrollment ended Jan. 15.

"People appreciate having a choice in where their children are able to go to school, combined with the fact we will be the only K-12 public school in Beaufort County," Szalai said of parents' interest in the new charter school. "It also provides continuity. Once a student is enrolled with us, they're always enrolled -- until they graduate -- removing the fear of being sent to another school."

She also believes applications are being fueled by Bridges' plan to adopt an "inquiry-based" learning program from the National Paideia Center. The Paideia program trains teachers to develop student-driven learning through collaborative or guided research, where students solve problems and discover information on their own. It takes about three years for a school to fully implement the program, Szalai said.

The Bridges committee still is scouting permanent locations for the school, but is opening in a temporary location in Beaufort for the first year, Szalai said.


The county's first charter school will take on 38 new students next school year and has received 525 applications with less than a week remaining before its enrollment deadline, according to director Alison Thomas.

Riverview has classes in kindergarten through eighth grade, and its student population has grown each year since opening four years ago. Enrollment applications continue to outpace that growth, Thomas said.

The school started with 247 students. It added 209 students over the past three years and received about 1,800 applications, in all, for those spots.

Thomas said the school will hold a lottery for kindergarten because it received 166 applications for 76 openings.

Enrollment ends Jan. 31. She said she won't know until Feb. 1 if lotteries will be held for other grades.


Royal Live Oaks Academy, also part of the statewide charter school district, will hold lotteries in March for kindergarten and ninth grade.

The school opened last fall in Hardeeville with kindergarten through eighth grade. Like Bridges, the school intends eventually to offer classes through 12th grade.

The academy has 50 seats available each for kindergarten and ninth grade. Enrollment ends Feb. 28.

Related content:

Bridges Preparatory selects head of new charter school: Jan. 8, 2013

New Beaufort County school Bridges Prep OK'd by state charter district: July 12, 2012

Charter school in Jasper County on track to open in August: Dec. 26, 2011

Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School

Bridges Preparatory School

Riverview Charter School