By Sarah Ostergaard
In 2013, 2017, and 2023, LexRich5 Schools received Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). According to the MSAP website, the purpose of an MSAP grant is to “assist in the desegregation of schools served by local educational agencies by providing financial assistance to eligible local educational agencies” (emphasis in original).
In 2013, LexRich5 Schools received an MSAP grant of $3,990,500 for Project ACCESS, which funded Spring Hill High School, Irmo High School’s arts programs, the international magnet at Irmo Middle School, Seven Oaks Elementary’s MEDIA magnet, and Dutch Fork Elementary School’s Academy for Environmental Sciences.
In 2017, LexRich5 Schools received an MSAP grant of $13,711,834 for the Discover Five project, which funded equity programs, Irmo High School’s International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme, H.E. Corley Elementary School’s Montessori Magnet, Leaphart Elementary School’s STEAM Magnet, and Nursery Road Elementary School’s Arts Magnet.
In 2023, LexRich5 Schools received an MSAP grant of $9,615,419 for Project Aspire. Project Aspire brings in MSAP funding over the next five years to two elementary schools in the Irmo High School attendance zone: Harbison West Elementary School and Seven Oaks Elementary School.
According to the project’s abstract available on the OESE website, the purpose of Project Aspire is to “reduce minority group isolation of black students and increase socioeconomic diversity at [these] two elementary schools.” The District’s application for the Project Aspire grant is available online on the OESE website. According to the application, Harbison West Elementary School and Seven Oaks Elementary School “share similar characteristics in their student demographics, enrollment trends, and achievement gaps between black and white students. These factors present the context for the project design and urgency for action.”
The Harbison West Elementary School’s website has information about the “two magnet programs offered,” including a video about the implementation of the new Project Aspire grant. The video explains what the grant entails and the transition to a “school-wide enrichment model.” There will be more project based learning, a passion project, enrichment clusters, modifications to instructional approach, etc. The school’s name will change to Harbison West Gifted and Talent Development Magnet School. According to the Project Aspire grant application on the OESE website, “[t]he transformation to a whole school magnet will contribute to a more inclusive school culture with opportunities for students to interact with peers from different backgrounds, abilities, perspectives, and experiences.”
Regarding Seven Oaks Elementary School, the MSAP funding will shift the MEDIA magnet focus to an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). The grant will also pay for consultants to work in the areas of “IB PYP, global leadership, and diversity and equity.” The Magnet Information page on the LexRich5 website for Seven Oaks Elementary School announces that the new grant will “significantly revise” the opportunities there. The school is “beginning the transition now, but starting with the 2024 – 2025 school year, [it] will officially be Seven Oaks Elementary Global Magnet School. As part of this, we will be implementing the Primary Years International Baccalaureate Programme.”
Happy National Magnet Schools Month.