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Oconee Campus Expansion Approved for NEXT High School

NEXT High School has cleared one more hurdle in its quest to expand to serve students at the soon-to-be-closed Tamassee-Salem Middle High School in Oconee county.

On Monday, the South Carolina Public Charter School District (SCPCSD) Board of Trustees conditionally approved the needed amendment to NEXT’s charter, allowing the school to serve all middle and high school grades at an additional campus.

“I love to see this type of grit, determination, and outside-the-box thinking from our school operators,” said Elliot Smalley, district superintendent. “I put a lot of stock in the people involved in a project, and NEXT has great, high-quality folks working together to try to serve this community.”

NEXT’s own board of directors set several stipulations for the opening of a new campus as well, the most ambitious of which is to have 215 enrolled students by the start of school.

“We’ve got two weeks of applications under our belt, and we’re already at 125 students,” said Zach Eikenberry, founding CEO of NEXT High School. “Next up, we expand our reach to outside of the Salem community. We’re confident that NEXT’s innovative approach to education will be a great draw for families.”

Once the Oconee County School Board voted to close the school, the town of Salem reached out to Eikenberry through a contact at Clemson University. Salem retains ownership of the Tamassee-Salem Middle High School building and plans to lease it to NEXT if they are able to operate the school.

“This community greatly values having a school nearby,” said Eikenberry. “We’ve reached out to the district and had some productive conversations that will hopefully lead to a strong relationship based on our mutual interest of doing what’s best for kids.”

Enrollment at the Tamassee-Salem campus would be open to any South Carolina student as the SCPCSD has no traditional school district boundaries. If demand exceeded the available school space, the school would hold a blind lottery to determine what students could attend.

To learn more about NEXT’s expansion in the Salem community, please visit http://www.nexthighschool.org.