Limestone University Establishes Charter Association In South Carolina

Charles Wyatt

Limestone University will officially announce the creation of the Limestone Charter Association during the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina’s Leadership Summit on Wednesday, July 21, in Columbia. 

The new Limestone Charter Association (LCA) will sponsor independent, innovative charter schools across South Carolina.

According to Limestone University President Dr. Darrell Parker, the Limestone Charter Association expects to name its founding Superintendent in the very near future. The LCA is also in the process of finalizing its inaugural Board of Directors.

“Since 1845, Limestone has had a history of leading the way in education,” Parker said in regard to the new endeavor. “That dedication to learning continues in 2021, with Limestone making this commitment to become a charter school authorizer in South Carolina. When Limestone was founded, it became the first women’s college in South Carolina and was one of the first in the nation. In the 1970s, Limestone created its innovative Block program for working adults who wanted to complete their degrees in the evenings, and in the 1990s, Limestone once again led the charge for virtual education by being one of the first in South Carolina to offer online classes and degree programs. 

“With its long history and dedication to learning, Limestone is proud to be taking this next step to become a public charter school authorizer,” he continued. “The mission of the Limestone Charter Association is to serve as the cornerstone of charter school authorizing in South Carolina and to facilitate a positive, educational environment that fosters school autonomy through support and oversight to its member schools.”
Limestone Charter Association logo

For more information about the Limestone Charter Association, visit its website HERE

Currently, there are 89 charter schools across South Carolina serving nearly 50,000 students. Limestone Charter Association becomes the third statewide authorizer, in addition to the S.C. Public Charter School District and the Charter Institute at Erskine.

The Limestone Charter Association office is now based in Columbia at Limestone University’s Student Service Center located on Arbor Lake Drive inside the Fontaine Business Park. To contact the LCA directly, email

There are currently only three ways a public charter school can exist in South Carolina, according to state law: It must be sponsored by a local school district, by the statewide South Carolina Public Charter School District, or by an institution of higher education. Because they are funded by taxpayers, the schools are public and must abide by the same rules was traditional public schools. For administrative purposes, the authorizers can receive up to two percent of each school’s state funding in South Carolina.

The Limestone University Board of Trustees voted to approve the formation of the Limestone Charter Association earlier this year, and Limestone then registered with the S.C. Department of Education as a sponsor under South Carolina’s Charter School Act. 

The LCA has contracted with Todd Helms and Traci Bryant-Riches during its start-up phase that will include the evaluation of new charter school applications later this year. 

Helms is the Director of New School Development and Athletics at Pinnacle Charter Academies and served as the Executive Director of Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia during the school’s first two years. He has been an active participant of the charter school movement in South Carolina and has been a key figure in helping to start four schools in the last 10 years.

Bryant-Riches is owner of AVIA Charters. She previously served as Director of New School Development, Accountability and Compliance, for Pinnacle Charter Academies. She also served previously as the Director of Charter Initiatives for the S.C. Public Charter School District.  

The Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina Leadership Summit will take place on July 20-21 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. On July 21, Parker will be addressing the group. S.C. Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette and other dignitaries will also be speaking at the summit that provides the venue for charter school peers to come together and exchange ideas on how to strengthen their collective missions. This year's presenters include national experts, elected officials, school leaders, and board members.

Limestone University is an accredited, independent, coeducational institution, and a non-denominational Christian university. Limestone’s residential campus is in Gaffney, and its innovative Online Program – which reaches across the globe – includes Student Service Centers across the state with locations in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Gaffney, and Greenville. Including its On-Campus, Online, and Graduate Studies Program students, Limestone is among the largest private universities in South Carolina with an enrollment of over 2,000 students. Founded in 1845, Limestone College officially changed its name to Limestone University in July of 2020.