District seeks grant to create magnet program at rural schools
The Georgetown County School District is seeking a federal grant to start magnet programs at the five schools in the Carvers Bay area of the county.
“The magnet concept is to attract more students to that area and also to retain students in that area to keep them from maybe pursuing opportunities in other places in our county or outside of our county,” Superintendent Keith Price told the school board this week.
The program, called “Pathways to Success,” would start at Carvers Bay High, Carvers Bay Middle, and Pleasant Hill, Plantersville and Browns Ferry Elementary schools.
Price said when the district was working on its goals last fall, one of them was to apply for a magnet schools grant.
Each school would have its own magnet program, and the five principals have been working with staff members, parents and community members since the beginning of the school year to come up with a theme and a focus for their program.
Three of the goals of the program are: to reduce “minority isolation” and help attract a more diverse and balanced student population; reduce the “opportunity gap” by bringing unique programs and opportunities that otherwise might not exist at the schools; and focus on academic achievement.
“All of those things are what this magnet grant [is] all about,” Price said.
The program also includes a partnership with Francis Marion University and Voorhees College to help the district have a more diverse workforce.
The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education is for up to $15 million.
Price said he will make a in-depth presentation about the district’s plans to the board in May.
Board members approved a letter of support for the program that will be included in the district’s application.
In the letter, the board said it believes the program will “help Georgetown reach full unitary status and achieve the goals of our Desegregation Order, specifically in the areas of student assignment and teacher assignment.”
The district has been under a consent decree stemming from court-ordered desegregation in the 1970s. The decree was signed in 1997 after the Department of Justice claimed that the district had failed to abide by the terms of earlier court orders.
Under the decree, each district school is required to have a staff whose racial mix is within 10 percent of the racial mix in the county as a whole.
The decree also restricts student transfers and requires that educational opportunities for students at three predominantly black elementary schools – Browns Ferry, Sampit and Plantersville – and the Carvers Bay schools “are unsurpassed in the district.”