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Leaders of proposed Sumter charter school lay out 1st priorities

Thompson, Ivey plan to open school fall 2021

By BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 7/23/19

Preparing an effective application to the state charter school board and hiring an experienced school administrator are top priorities for the new chief of staff of a proposed new public charter …

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Leaders of proposed Sumter charter school lay out 1st priorities

Thompson, Ivey plan to open school fall 2021

Posted

Preparing an effective application to the state charter school board and hiring an experienced school administrator are top priorities for the new chief of staff of a proposed new public charter school for Sumter County.

Local private business owner Greg Thompson, who is spearheading the formation of the charter, and Trevor Ivey, a veteran Sumter School District educator who will soon be leaving the district to be the proposed charter’s first employee, spoke last week after Ivey was announced as Thompson’s initial hire. In the spring, Thompson basically split from the district and his service on the school board’s Finance Committee after more than six years over differences with the current school board, especially related to the creation of a new technical high school to potentially better prepare students for entry into the local workforce.

Ivey will prepare the school’s application for approval through the South Carolina Public Charter School District Board of Trustees, based in Columbia. That would take place next spring.

Currently, Ivey and Thompson foresee the school starting with grades 6-10 and opening for students in the fall of 2021 — basically two years from now, they said.

After Ivey officially starts in about two months on Oct. 1, he will also lead a national search for a proven public charter school administrator/executive director. Both said they hope that hire can be made by the end of 2019.

“We want to find somebody with a proven track record of developing, building and operating a charter school at a very high level,” Thompson said.

That person can then implement his or her “playbook” on the charter as far as more defined timelines, he said.

Thompson and Ivey also said they plan to benchmark some of the best public charters in the Southeast on what works best, including in writing the application that must be approved.

If the charter is approved next spring, it would have a little more than one year to recruit teachers and other staff for a potential opening in August 2021, they said.

The two said they would like to add grades 11 and 12 in ensuing years and then be operational as a grade 6-12 school.

Like Sumter School District, the proposed charter would not charge tuition and would reach all demographics. Thompson said he foresees industry-based technical tracks, a high-performers track for potential engineers, as well as programs for underperforming and challenged students.

Thompson also said he would not be opposed to working with another local charter school, if it were approved and in place.

He said he thinks a public charter would be a great educational alternative locally to Sumter School District, home school, students leaving the county to attend school elsewhere and others.

“We’re an alternative to a lot of things,” Thompson said. “We actually think this is going to be a super-great addition to the community and to our public school platform.”