South Carolina’s Replication Application

This piece is part of our interactive, Authorizer Showcases, which highlight how authorizers around the country are tackling obstacles related to access and accountability.


Elliot Smalley is Superintendent of the South Carolina Public Charter School District (SCPCSD). They authorize 39 schools that serve 24,000 students in South Carolina, and growing.

“We know that growth won’t just come from new school start-ups,” says Elliot. “Expanding and replicating existing high-quality charter schools can mean more opportunities, available more rapidly, to the most students. It’s a strategy that pairs well with the urgency of need we’re experiencing here in South Carolina, like many states around the country.”

Elliot and his team have created a Replication Application to facilitate the growth of high-performing charter schools already serving students locally. The Replication Application streamlines the process by recognizing school performance and school maturation in these ways:

  • Reducing the authorizing fee for applicants
  • Matching up the model and its academic success with areas of statewide need
  • Emphasizing the existing body of evidence to determine replication readiness
  • Focusing the applicant and the process itself on operational and financial preparedness to replicate in a way that preserves the success of the existing school(s)
  • Working with local boards to navigate the structural governance model that aligns best with their long-term strategic planning
  • Assisting with recruitment and marketing efforts

“Essentially,” Elliot explains, “we remove the need (and burden) for the applicant to demonstrate the effectiveness of their model: they’ve already done this! This enables us—school and authorizer—to collaborate on replication in ways that don’t interfere with the very autonomy of operations and programming that has led to the school’s success.”

Using this Replication Application process, one charter expanded to a second campus in 2017 and two more are approved to open their respective additional campuses in 2019. By facilitating the growth of these great schools, the authorizer has effectively created the state’s first CMO: Green Charter Schools, a four school network by 2019.