Big Changes For West Ashley SchoolsNew leaders rise, while old buildings are razed
August 8, 2017
By Lorne Chambers | Editor
The 2017-2018 school year will be one of great change in West Ashley. Springfield Elementary School, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary, and West Ashley Advanced Studies Magnet Middle School School will all start the year off with new principals at the helm.(see story on pages 6-7).
Also, West Ashley High School principal Lee Runyon has been designated as “principal on special assignment” to lead the development of both the North Charleston and West Ashley Centers for Advanced Studies. That means that WAHS will also be receiving a new principal sometime this school year. In the meantime, Runyon will continue to serve as principal at WAHS to help with a smooth transition through the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
“I sincerely want to thank the faculty, staff, administrators, parents and most importantly, the students of West Ashley High who have supported me over the past three years,” said Runyon, once his new role with the district was announed. “Their unwavering dedication and commitment towards the institution’s success is the driving force in making West Ashley one of the best high schools.”
All the changes were a little too much for some in the West Ashley community, who turned out in force at Charleston County School District office to protest the reassignments of Runyon and others as well as the district’s decision to evaluate teachers based on student standardized test score improvement.
In June Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait Charleston County School District (CCSD) pumped the breaks on her district-wide shake-up.
“Throughout the past couple of months one thing has become painfully clear to me. I have failed to adequately invite and involved your voices and viewpoints,” said Postlewait in a video posted to the CCSD’s website. “We moved forward too quickly. I implemented too many initiatives too rapidly without taking adequate time to involved students, educators, parents, and community members.”
In addition to the all the shakeups in leadership, another major and noticeable change took place within the West Ashley public school world last week. Stono Park Elementary, which has been a part of the local community since the 1950s, was reduced to a pile of rubble. Construction on the new Stono Park is set to begin soon. A bright colored children’s playground set remained in stark contracts to the piles of cinderblocks and
Stono Park has been another point of contention between CCSD and members of the West Ashley community. The county agreed to rebuild Stono Park back in 2011 for $26.6 million, then reneged on that promise in 2014, and then finally after much community backlash, again agreed on rebuilding the award-winning school for $24.8 million last September.
But despite a brand new Stono Park being built on its Garden Street property, the award-winning school has struggled to attract new students as parents in certain neighborhoods revolted at the idea that their children could be transferred out of St. Andrew’s School of Math and Science and reassigned to the new Stono Park, which is slated to open for the 2019-20 school year.
With all of the changes at West Ashley Schools, the Charleston County School District launched it’s annual back-to-school hotline designed to help families transition into the new school year. Families are urged to call (843) 937-6366 with any questions concerning registration, transportation, school start times, etc. The hotline will be open from, Aug. 14-18, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.