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District putting programs in arms reach

New zone concept will put magnet programs in communities

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Future improvements to Charleston County schools will focus on a new "zone" concept that would provide similar program offerings in regions throughout the sprawling district.

Trial efforts, offering limited math and arts magnet programs, as well as single-gender classrooms, have been available at a handful of schools in the past few years.

The new vision, approved by the school board last week, would make similar programs available within a bus ride from any student in the district.

"In order to provide access for all students, we must recognize the logistical challenges in this county," says Superintendent Nancy McGinley.

To get there, the district is going to be divided into four zones: North Charleston; East Cooper; the peninsula and West Ashley; and James Island and other southwest schools. Each zone will get an elementary school with math and science, arts, and Montessori themes, along with other magnet programs. Zones will also have one middle school with a single-gender program. The district would provide transportation for all students within the zones.

"This is an excellent way to provide equity to all of our students," says board member Ann Opplinger.

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