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Editorial: From living room to classroom

With $6 million on the table, it was no surprise to see school district officials show up last month when a federal Rural Development loan came up for approval by the Coastal Montessori Charter School. “I might need to borrow some money from them,” said Superintendent Randy Dozier. And if he’d asked, he might have got some. What surprises people around the state is how well the district and the charter school work together. It’s a model of cooperation that isn’t seen often.

There was less cooperation seen in the community as the charter school searched for a site for a permanent campus. First it found itself caught in a feud between property owners and the University of South Carolina when it tried to buy a tract at Prince George. Then it was the subject of opposition from residents in the Allston Plantation and Hagley neighborhoods who feared the school will cause traffic problems. But the school got county planning approval and last week bought 6.9 acres on Highway 17 at Allston Plantation. It is now completing plans for a 49,060-square-foot school to serve students in grades one through eight.

This is a $6 million project that started five years ago in a living room. It’s bigger than the two grocery store construction projects down the highway that came in around $3 million, and will have a bigger impact on the community. Yet this public benefit has emerged from private individuals who wanted to expand a private school into a public school. There is so much talk about improving education, but too little evidence of people willing to take on the hard work of making change happen. That makes Coastal Montessori a model of another kind. It shows what’s possible. The new school will stand as inspiration to others who are willing to invest their time and talents in this community.

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