Montessori Charter School looking ahead to bright future

  • Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lloyd Mackall/For The Times
Dr. Pamela Martin, a professor at CCU, asks about the school's efforts to recruit minority students.

The Coastal Montessori Charter School will be under new leadership next year but it will survive and the future looks promising.
That was the message delivered to parents of students who attend the Pawleys Island school which currently shares a campus with Waccamaw Middle.  
The school’s first director, Lonnie Yancsurak, is leaving in June and a committee is being formed to find his replacement.
Rob Horvath, chairman of the school’s board of directors, reminded parents the school is “a community,” not just one person.
He said a seven-member panel is being put together to help find the new director. Two of the members will be parents. Yancsurak will also help with the search.
Since the school is now open, the job description for the incoming director will be rewritten.
“Things have changed from when we first opened,” Horvath said.
Even though the job has not yet been advertised, Horvath said three resumes have already been received.
“We expect a slew of applicants. We had 80 last year,” he said.
He said the job will be posted for 30 days and he expects to know the top contenders in the next two or three months.
At that time teachers will get to meet the finalists for the position.
Board member Chris Bird presented a facilities update. The school is expected to move away from the Waccamaw Middle campus in the next couple of years.
Bird said the board is working diligently to locate property for a new school to be built.
One location they are very interested in is ten acres owned by the University of South Carolina at the Prince George tract.
The property is on the west side of Highway 17 and must be used for educational purposes, according to the restrictions.
Funding for the new school and land purchase would come from a $5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan.
Horvath said the school made the USC Development Foundation a written offer which was rejected.
“They will come up with a counter offer,” he said. “We are giving it our best shot to make this happen.”
Horvath said the new school site needs to be closer to the City of Georgetown in order to attract more minority students.
According to a 1970s order from the U.S. Justice Department, schools in the district must have a racial balance within ten percent of the racial makeup of the community. Currently, that means minorities need to make up at least 40 percent of the student body. The school is 78 percent white.
Horvath said by making the move closer to Georgetown, it will be much easier for children to commute to the school.
The Justice Department has agreed to the move to the USC property but promised to keep an eye on the enrollment if the move is made.
Horvath said if the school is successful in acquiring the property, “it can be one of the most magnificent learning environments anywhere.”
He is encouraging parents and students to help by creating things such as YouTube videos explaining to USC how important it is that the school be allowed to purchase the property.
Yancsurak said 120 of the 145 students who currently attend the school have already signed to return next year.
More first graders are expected for the 2013-14 year so Yancsurak expects about 167 students in the school’s sophomore year.
He said in order to “pay the bills” at least 200 students will be needed when the new school opens.
The school is currently for grades 1-6 but the first middle school grade is expected to be added in two years with grades added each year thereafter.
Yancsurak said the current plans are to have the first 12th grade class graduation from the school in 2020.

By Scott Harper

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