On July 1, the Edgefield County School District will have one less school.
Fox Creek High School’s board of directors voted unanimously earlier this month to request a transfer from the school district to the South Carolina Public Charter School District. The state charter school board accepted the transfer request unanimously Feb. 9.
The South Carolina Public Charter School District includes 13 schools across the state. Any student who is a South Carolina resident can attend the schools in the district for free, and the school’s funding comes from the state.
The reason for the move was to eliminate barriers that students faced who wanted to attend the school, Fox Creek Principal Tim Murph said.
South Carolina charter schools that are controlled by local districts can enroll no more than 20 percent of their students from outside the district.
Fox Creek also received no local funding for students enrolled from outside Edgefield County, so the school set a $2,500 tuition fee each year for these students.
That meant turning away a lot of students. Of those who wanted to attend the school, only about 20 came from outside the county, Murph said.
Last spring, the board of directors voted to waive the fee for out-of-county students starting with the 2011-12 school year.
“We had about 75 Aiken County students all rush to register to go to school here. The problem was that we could only accept 65 students because of the 20 percent rule,” Murph said. “It was very heart-wrenching to turn away parents and students, but there was nothing I could do.”
It’s a difficult situation he will no longer have to face under the South Carolina Public Charter School District.
“We feel this is the next great step in Fox Creek’s history,” he said. “The Merriwether community has strong ties with both Edgefield County and the city of North Augusta. Many of our parents went to North Augusta High School, and we have an affection for North Augusta as well as Edgefield. I think now this move will help to further bridge the Edgefield and North Augusta communities.”
While the Edgefield County School District will have one less school under its umbrella, it will regain local funding by no longer having to send funds to Fox Creek, Murph added.
This year, Fox Creek received $3,301 in local funds per student living in Edgefield County. About 300 students are Edgefield County residents.
After the school was notified that its request was accepted, Murph signed an agreement and the school edited its charter to change the school’s district from Edgefield County School District to the South Carolina Public Charter School District.
Charter schools receive a charter in 10-year periods. Fox Creek is in the third year of its charter and will transfer its charter to the new school district effective for the 2012-13 school year.
Parents and students won’t see much of a difference, Murph said.
Fox Creek is currently registering students for the upcoming school year. The board hasn’t set a cap on the number of students it will enroll.
“We are expecting about 75 additional students, but we have more than enough space to accommodate twice that many,” he said.
Registration packets for the 2012-13 school year can be obtained from the school at 165 Shortcut Road in North Augusta, or at www.foxcreekhighschool.org. For more information about registration, call (803) 613-9435.