Site chosen for new Fairfield charter school

Lucas Vance Staff Writer

November 13, 2013

WINNSBORO — The Midlands STEM Institute (MSI) board of directors has chosen the former residential care facility at 1403 Greenbrier Mossydale Road outside Winnsboro as the site for the new public charter school in Fairfield County.

The seven-member board unanimously voted on Sept. 17 to renovate the 18,000-square-foot building, which sits on an 18.2-acre site and features a brick building with courtyards, a playground area and ample room for expansion.

Board chairman Kevin Thomas said the board considered several sites that offered a variety of advantages, but none as well suited for MSI’s purposes as the site on Greenbrier Mossydale Road.

“This location is perfect for the institute,” he stated. “It is centrally located to the students we are hoping to serve and grants a lot of flexibility for developing a first-class learning environment that teachers will want to teach in and where parents will want to send their children.”

The main deciding factor was to offer a centrally located facility in Fairfield County. Thomas said MSI wanted to offer a school to both the eastern and western side of the county.

“We just felt like a centrally located facility like Greenbrier Mossydale Road would benefit Fairfield County more than anything else,” he noted.

Plans call for MSI to offer a wireless environment featuring the latest technology as students pursue an education enriched by a curriculum heavy in science, engineering and mathematics. Non-traditional classrooms will allow students to learn in a collaborate environment that will encourage experiments and hands-on experiences.

Thomas said that the building will be remodeled to make it appropriate for a K-5 school. Renovations will start in December, and Thomas said the process would last until the early part of summer in 2014.

The current building would take the school up until the eighth grade, but in the next few years renovations would include expanding the building to accommodate high school grade levels and adding an athletic facility.

“After the first few years we would start to add on the high school aspect as well,” Thomas said. “The good thing about this facility is that it is on 18 acres and there is plenty of room for expansion and for the athletic facility that we would like to add as well.”

The new charter school, which was approved this summer by the S.C. Charter School Advisory Committee and the S.C. Public Charter School District Board of Trustees, will open next fall.

An interview of the MSI staff by the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce will air on Truvista channel 4 on Nov. 13 at 8:30 p.m. and on Nov. 17 at 2:30 p.m. It will also air on channel 39 at a later date. The interview includes an artist rendering of what the facility will look like when it opens next fall.

After talking with the South Carolina Public Charter School District, Thomas said MSI is far ahead of other schools in terms of the number of applications.

“The fact that we have hired an executive director and have secured a facility, we are well on our way to opening up next August,” Thomas added.