AIKEN - Educators at Edgefield County's new public charter high school are scouring the countryside for computers, filing cabinets and desks - they might even turn to prisons for their furniture needs.
Prisons are a ready source of institutional furniture, but officials at Fox Creek High School are not limiting their search to inmate-crafted desks and chairs. They also need overhead projectors, lockers and a school bus.
"We need a little bit of everything," said John Gratop, the administrator at Fox Creek High School, a charter school set to open in a converted video poker parlor in August. "We're asking for the community's help for anything they can give us from library books to computers to outside lamps."
Though the Department of Education gives charter schools such as Fox Creek more than $200,000 to start up, administrators say they have to cut corners, scrounge for supplies and hunt for any discounts.
Keisha Lloyd Kennedy, the director of Lloyd Kennedy Charter School, which opened in 2002, traveled to the state Department of Corrections in Columbia to find equipment. She said the deals she got from the prison saved her school thousands.
Officials at the state Department of Education said they know the grant doesn't get schools too far, so they encourage charter schools to search for other ways to find equipment and money.
There are 19 charter schools across the state, including two in Aiken County. Nine more charter schools applied to open this year, but Catherine Samulski, an education associate for the state Department of Education for charter and magnet schools, said three of those won't get off the ground as planned.
"It's not uncommon to delay opening for a year, but it has never been because a school can't afford equipment," she said.
Reach Peter G. Gilchrist at (803) 648-1395.
Fox Creek High School, Edgefield County's new public charter school, is asking the community for help collecting supplies. To donate an item, contact Bob Ross at (803) 278-2998. Needed items include: