New charter school could open in Ridgeland; Riverview likely won't meet racial diversity targets

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New charter school could open in Ridgeland; Riverview likely won't meet racial diversity targets

By KYLE PETERSON
kpeterson@beaufortgazette.com
843-706-8147
Published Monday, August 8, 2011   |  409 Words  |  

A new charter school might come to Ridgeland next year, and Beaufort County parents will be welcome to apply.

The Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences won approval into the S.C. Charter School District last month.

Les Wicks, ones of the school's founders, said the group decided to be part of the state district -- instead of the Jasper County School District -- in part to avoid being seen as in competition with local educators.

An additional benefit, he said, is enrollment will be immediately available to students outside of Jasper County, meaning Bluffton and Beaufort parents will be able to apply.

"Anybody that wants to in the state has a right to be in that lottery to be drawn in," Wicks said.

School leaders hope to open with 396 students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, in August 2012. Additional grades will be added as those students progress.

RIVERVIEW STILL SAFE

Riverview Charter School probably will not meet targets for racial diversity this year, but because final goals don't hit until 2012-13, the school's charter probably is not yet at risk, according to a Beaufort County School District official.

Figures for racial makeup have been sent to the federal Office of Civil Rights. Jackie Rosswurm, the school district's human resources chief who serves as a liaison to Riverview, expects to hear back in a matter of weeks.

"It's not a matter of them closing their doors," Rosswurm said. "There's not going to be a recommendation to close, because there's a target further ahead."

In 2009, OCR said Riverview's enrollment failed to comply with the district's 1970 desegregation agreement because the school's racial makeup did not approximate that of the district as a whole. To comply, Riverview is required to incrementally enroll a higher percentage of black students and a lower percentage of white students.

This fall, the school should be at least 15.7 percent black and no more than 63.7 percent white, according to the target.

Riverview will meet the first target but might not meet the second.

According to figures presented to the Beaufort County Board of Education earlier this year, a total of 342 students are slated to enroll at Riverview next year: 58, or 17 percent, are black; 226, or 66 percent, are white.

Follow staff writer Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.