Charter School Hits Snag

Leaders of the Midlands STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Institute (MSI), a free public Charter School planned for Fairfield County, recently met with State Department of Education’s Charter School Advisory Committee. The meeting was held to determine if the free public Charter School would be granted a charter to open in the Fall of 2013.

The start date of Charter School has been pushed back to the Fall of 2014, due to the lack of community support.

“I got the idea to open a charter school in Fairfield County in December 2011 and met with S.C. Public Charter School District superintendent Dr. Wayne Brazell in January 2012,” said Kevin Thomas, chairman of the MSI planning committee. “Even though we were late in the process for approval this year, I was encouraged to apply for a Charter in Fairfield County and did so. We completed the application process in three months, where the average application is done in 16 months.”

Despite the time constraints, the committee fashioned a strong proposal, said Thomas, but did hit one snag – community involvement.

“During the application process, we were told that the charter application we submitted was very good, actually in the top third of applications submitted,” he said. “The problem with the application was the number of parents who signed a letter of interest to possibly send their children to MSI.”

“STEM offers students the opportunity to work in a hands-on learning environment focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Planning Committee member Marie Milam. “That’s where the jobs are going to be.”

In an attempt to get the word out about the charter school, three articles were written in the local newspaper, three interviews were conducted with local TV news stations, a community information session was held in which only 10 people attended, an information booth was set up at the Blair Parade and Family Day, a Facebook page was set up to disseminate information, a phone call was made to every church in Fairfield County to garner support, and an e-mail list was established to keep interested parties informed.

“We are determined to give the children and parents of Fairfield and surrounding counties a choice in their education,” said Thomas. “MSI will be a cutting-edge education targeting the skills needed for the jobs of the future, such as ones at V.C. Summer. If the communities of Fairfield, Chester, Kershaw, and Richland counties want the Midlands STEM Institute to open, they will have to help the planning committee gather signatures of parents of children who will be in Kindergarten-fifth grade in 2014 (3-8 years old now). Our target number of signatures is 175, at least 27 per grade.”

Students from surrounding counties are eligible to attend MSI.

If you are interested in helping with our signature drive please contact MSI Planning Committee Chairman Kevin Thomas at 803-361-1228 or [email protected]