Open house at Horse Creek Academy charter school draws crowd

Parents in Aiken checked out a less traditional school option at an open house Thursday night at Horse Creek Academy. Horse Creek is a pre-k through 8 charter school on the eastern side of Aiken near Highway 78.
Parents in Aiken checked out a less traditional school option at an open house Thursday night at Horse Creek Academy. Horse Creek is a pre-k through 8 charter school on the eastern side of Aiken near Highway 78.

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)- Parents in Aiken checked out a less traditional school option at an open house Thursday night at Horse Creek Academy. Horse Creek is a pre-k through 8 charter school on the eastern side of Aiken near Highway 78.

President Donald Trump touted school choice in his speech to Congress earlier this week.

“These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them,” he said.

The administration at Horse Creek Academy says their educational model falls in line with the president’s vision.

“We are a South Carolina public school, but given a charter,” said Principal Mark Brown. “We still have the same testing. We still have the same curriculum requirements, but we’re given a little more leeway in how we teach.”

That model has drawn hundreds of Aiken families. The pre-k through 8 school has about 480 students, up from around 375 last year, Brown says. Next Fall, they’re adding a ninth grade.

A huge crowd came to an open house Thursday night.

“We have three to four to five calls every single day with parents that want to get their kids [in],” Brown said.

Admission is done by raffle. Carol Scurry says this is the second time she’s tried to get her grandson in.

“We were looking for more one-on-one interaction with him,” she said.

Brown says the average class size is about 20.

However, that hands-on attention comes at a cost. Horse Creek receives about $1,300 or $1,400 dollars less per student than other Aiken County Public Schools, according to Brown.

“We do have a good base of parents that do fundraisers for us to help us out with a lot of that,” he said. “We have parents that donate money, time, effort.”

Scurry says the lack of funding dosen’t bother her.

“If it means financially doing more to ensure that your child has a proper education, I’m sure these people will reach out and do that,” she said.

As for performance, Brown says Horse Creek’s students’ test scores fall around the median of those of the county’s other students.

Brown says they also want to add programs for kids younger through pre-k and as well as a high school plus the first two years of college.

You can learn more about Horse Creek Academy here.

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