Rockton Baptist Church new site for Midlands S.T.E.M. Institute, will open on time

By Lucas Vance lvance@civitasmedia.com

July 14, 2014

WINNSBORO — After announcing on July 3 that the new charter school Midlands S.T.E.M. Institute would not open at the Greenbriar Mossydale site as originally planned, the board of directors announced on Wednesday that the school will open on time at Rockton Baptist Church.

The decision came following a board of directors meeting at Mission Ridge on Tuesday night to discuss contractual matters in executive session pertaining to facilities.

A lease agreement was reached this week between Rockton Baptist Church, located on Crane Street in Winnsboro, and the MSI board of directors.

The school will open for the 2014 Fall semester on Aug. 18 after the approval was granted by the S.C. Department of Education and the S.C. Department of Transportation.

“We are enormously grateful for our new partnership with the Rockton Baptist Church community,” MSI executive director Marie Milam said in a statement. “They really came through for us and we look forward now to focusing all of our attention on students and launching this new and exciting educational endeavor.”

The Rev. Kenny Cole from Rockton Baptist Church believes the church will benefit with its new partner as well and said the church seeks out ways to minister to the community for a greater good.

“We had no idea this door of opportunity would open,” he noted. “We are excitedly, enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to joint venture with Midlands S.T.E.M. Institute to make this dream of a school a reality and to contribute to a greater future to the community of Fairfield county, Winnsboro and beyond.”

With a little over a month until the school’s doors open for the Fall semester, some renovations will begin immediately at the new facility to meet requirements that are set forth by the state’s Office of School Facilities.

The engineer for the project will be Dan Dennis of Dennis Corporation of Columbia.

“I am really looking forward to this opportunity to help Midlands S.T.E.M. and the children of this community,” he said in a statement. “As both a former resident and an engineer myself, I have a developed a strong personal passion for this project.”

The school was to be located at a former nursing facility on Greenbrier Mossydale Road, but after issues developed, the board of directors decided to pursue alternate sites in order to ensure that the school would open on time.

For the last several months, the MSI board of directors worked to find a suitable alternate site that will allow the school to start on time.

Board member John Peoples stated that despite a few weeks of uncertainty, the board’s commitment to launching the school never wavered.

“We believe very strongly in providing our children the opportunity to experience a comprehensive S.T.E.M. education,” he said. “But we also wanted to build a school community that can be a credit to taxpayers. It may have taken more time than we anticipated, but we have successfully found a site that will allow our students to enjoy a tuition-free, rich educational experience at a reasonable tax-payer cost.”

Midlands S.T.E.M. Institute is a tuition-free public charter school sanctioned by the S.C. Department of Education. As a comprehensive S.T.E.M. school, MSI will immerse students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics throughout its curriculum.

For more information about the school, go to www.midlandsstem.org or call 803-815-0630.