School Board to Consider Burke-Allegro Shared Campus Proposal 3/13

James Snipe, Staff Reporter

Burke High School and Allegro Charter School for Music are presenting a plan to share Burke’s campus to the CCSD Board of Trustees in the upcoming March 13 meeting.

Dr. Barbara Dilligard, a retired Burke teacher and co-founder of the Burke Foundation, outlined the proposal in a series of meetings with students, parents, staff and members of the community over the last two weeks.

According to Dr. Dilligard’s presentation, the plan is being considered to both help Allegro find physical space for its campus and to assist Burke in increasing enrollment and a more diverse student population. Allegro has quickly outgrown its current home on Broad Street, and Burke has been facing a steady decline in enrollment since 1983.

By integrating Allegro into the Burke campus, Dr. Dilligard and her counterparts hope to create a more inclusive education “hub” otherwise known as the Burke Education Center. The new Burke Education Center would be composed of four academies: Academic, CTE, Fine Arts and Graduate Prep with New Tech Network.

“We believe that we can create a unique collaboration that will allow a public charter to work well with a public school,” Dr. Dilligard said in the presentation.

Dr. Dilligard spelled out various benefits and hurdles to such a collaboration.

Among the benefits: possible sharing of advanced placement courses, private music classes and teaching methods. She also said students in socioeconomically and racially diverse schools have better academic outcomes. Burke is about 95 percent African American; Allegro is about 35 percent African American.

In discussing the hurdles, Dr. Diligard referred to the lingering ill will at Burke over the experience of Academic Magnet High School opening at Burke and then leaving. “Unfortunately that program progressed in a negative manner after several years of building isolation on the campus,” she said.

Many questions remain about a charter and Title 1 school sharing a campus.

Where exactly on Burke’s campus would Allegro be housed? Allegro, for instance, has 45 minute classes while Burke has 90 minute blocks. How would federal and state government funding programs change?

Dr. Dilligard said much still needs to be done. Allegro needs to make a final decision whether it wants to join the Burke Education Center. A memorandum of agreement must be prepared to address legal issues, facility needs and financial implications.

The Burke/Simmons Pinckney/Allegro Planning Team members, consisting of:
● Barbara Dilligard, Burke Feeder System Transition Director
● Anna Dassing, Acting Principal, BHS
● Sarah Earle, Associate Principal, BHS
● Alan Smith, Assistant Principal, BHS
● Linard McCloud, BHS Fine Art Department Chairman
● Nathan Nelson, Simmons Pinckney Middle School Associate Principal
● Daniel Neirkirk, Allegro Principal