City design officials will get a first look this week at a new peninsula campus planned for the City Paper's East Central neighborhood. Targeting underprivileged children, the Meeting Street Academy has a demanding curriculum, parental involvement, and, most importantly, results showing students out-performing nearby public schools. What the school doesn't have is space.
"We're completely overcrowded at this point," says academy Director Trish Scarry.
The academy operates largely on donations and contributions from local debt collection firm Sherman Financial Group. Parents are charged $1 a day for the regular curriculum and $2 a day for after-school care.
The school currently serves 80 students, from 3-year-olds to first graders, and expects to grow one grade level each year, up to eighth grade. At its King Street facility, the school has installed two trailers in the small yard to accommodate classes, but won't have to wait long for more room.
The school has other nonprofits interested in launching similar programs in other communities, and it has prompted support from the City of Charleston. Last year, the city agreed to spend up to $4.75 million for a large lot owned by SCE&G on Meeting Street. The project was delayed while the power company completed environmental cleanup at the site.
Construction on the $5 million facility is expected to begin in January and should be completed in a year to 18 months. When it opens, the facility will be ready to serve 3-year-olds to fifth graders, with a later addition expected to support the middle school classes.