With one final singing of their alma mater, supporters for Lincoln Middle-High School walked away from Monday’s Charleston County School Board meeting as officials moved to close the historically African-American school in an effort to make up the district’s budgetary shortfall.
The final vote to close the McClellanville school passed 6-3 with board members Dr. Eric Mack, Michael Miller, and Rev. Chris Collins opposing the final decision to shutter what had become one of the most expensive schools in the district in terms of money spent per student. Following the end of this school year, Lincoln students in grades 9-12 will be zoned for Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant, while middle school students will be zoned for St. James-Santee. In addition to outlining a transition strategy that includes academic support, two additional air conditioned buses will be provided to transport students. CCSD is currently in the process of acquiring land in Awendaw with plans to build a new school on that property in the future.
“This is a difficult decision for us. It’s 500 times more difficult for the families and students that go to Lincoln or have gone to Lincoln or live in that community. I want to say, and I’ve said this before, I would be making this recommendation whether we had the budget challenge that we have now or not because I want to do what is best and the school board wants to do what’s best for student achievement,” said board member Kate Darby. “I feel strongly that there are so many increased opportunities for students at Wando. I want to commit that the board, the staff, whatever happens on this motion, we want to work with whatever transition there is. We know it’s hard, but if we really focus on what is better for the students, I think we’ll see that the opportunities that they’ll have at Wando are going to be more than they would ever be able to have at Lincoln right now.”
Lincoln was one of two schools on the chopping block Monday evening, but Jane Edwards Elementary gained a last minute reprieve with the board voting unanimously to keep the Edisto Island school open over the next year as staff works to develop a long-term strategy for its preservation.
A motion was also passed during the meeting to increase the tax rate on commercial properties to restore a portion of cuts to literacy programs and positions for assistants principal and students concern specialists. The final vote passed 6-3 with board members Collins, Tripp Wiles, and Todd Garrett opposing the increase.
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