Increasing Numbers Of Parents Seeking Educational Choices For Their Children

By Lee Ann Carter

In today's competitive job market, parents know that a quality education can help guarantee their children a secure future. With this in mind, an increasing number of parents are seeking educational choices that give them an active role in how and what their children are taught.

Regardless of the circumstances, relocating to a new area is a stressful event. For families with children, the stress level can be multiplied by uncertainty about the educational climate. In many cases, information about an area's public school system is readily available on the Internet or in relocation guides, but the same information concerning private or independent schools can be a bit more elusive.

The Charleston, S.C., area has a proud history of outstanding independent schools. Some of them, such as Ashley Hall and Bishop England, have been educating Lowcountry children since the early 1900s. Others have been established more recently, with the growing influx of people relocating to the tri-county area fueling a substantial rise in the number of independent schools now serving the educational needs of pre-school, kindergarten, grade school and high school children throughout the region.

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Education In The Lowcountry

Like school systems throughout the nation, the school districts in this region face many challenges. However, in the last few years, this community has rallied around public education - seeking new and innovative ways to overcome challenges and achieve success.

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has long been a passionate advocate of public education in the region - working to help the community understand the link between quality schools and a strong economy. In 1995, seeing a need for the business community to have a more direct involvement and with a firm belief that the quality of our public education system has a direct and lasting impact on the quality of the region's work force, the Chamber formed The Education Foundation. Established as the education arm of the Chamber, The Education Foundation is a separate charitable organization, relying on the support of both the public and private sectors to accomplish its program of work.

The Education Foundation, which serves as an intermediary organization between the business and education communities, has developed programs and initiatives that have impacted the way students learn and teachers teach.

Education Facts

Four school districts, in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties, serve approximately 87,000 students in the Charleston metropolitan area in 132 K-12 schools. In addition, more than 75 private and parochial schools have an enrollment of 11,000 students.

Student Population 26,168 42,045 16,471 2,453
Number of Public Schools 35 79 16 4
  Elementary 16 46 8 2
  Middle/Intermediate 13 19 5 1
  High Schools 6 13 2 1
  Other - 1 1 -
Per Pupil Expenditures $5,876 $6,057 $5,593 $7,504
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 22:1 20.7:1 21.3:1 17.4:1
Average Teacher Salary $37,140 $36,263 $37,005 $37,700
Average SAT Scores (2001) 986 943 988 753
Dropout Rate 3.5% 3.3% 3.5% 4.0%
Annual District Report Card Rating*
Absolute Rating Good Average Good Below Average
Improvement Rating Below Average Average Below Average Average
Compiled by: Center for Business Research, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 1/2002.

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