October 29, 2020


Building Purchased

Columbia, South Carolina – On October 27, 2020, Palmetto Achievement Center for Excellence (PACE) Academy, the Midlands’ first tuition-free school for children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, became the first public charter school in South Carolina history to secure bond financing for their building without the support of an Education or Charter Management Company.

New charter schools have few options to secure facility financing, having to rely heavily on developers who charge high rates or spend thousands of dollars upfitting a rented facility. Schools who have an Education or Charter Management Company have big company financing available to them where independent school such as PACE do not. Most schools take at least 3 to 5 years before being financially stable enough on their own to engage the bond market for facility financing. The founding members of PACE were able to demonstrate the overwhelming need for a school of this type in the Midlands area and were therefore able to secure an investor all on their own.

“When you put kids first and make them the priority, it’s amazing what a school can accomplish,” said Chris G. Neeley, Superintendent, South Carolina Public Charter School District. “That’s exactly what PACE Academy did when they became the first charter school in South Carolina to secure bond funding for a new building all on their own. It took a smart Board, passionate school leader, strong community support, and supportive stakeholders to make their dream a reality. I can’t wait to stand with them next summer when they open their doors for the first time to a student population who are eager for a high quality charter school that meets them where they are educationally and lifts them to new heights in life.”

Parents of future students, the South Carolina Public Charter School District, the South Carolina Charter School Alliance, Representative Laurie Slade Funderburk, and members of the community all came out to show their support for the school and to celebrate the momentous event. “The Public Charter School Alliance of SC is so excited for the Midlands community to have a school that’s mission is to serve students with Dyslexia,” said Patti Rubenzer, Director of School Development, Public Charter School Alliance of SC. “PACE Academy has such a high capacity group and their excitement is contagious. Only good things are in their future and we are so fortunate to be a partner with this school.” PACE Academy is the Midlands’ first tuition-free school specifically designed to meet the needs of students with dyslexia and other language-based learning difficulties. The school will open Fall of 2021 with grades 3-7, and students will receive over 2 hours of Orton-Gillingham based language instruction each day. They will also receive multisensory math instruction and project-oriented instruction in science and social studies, as well as structured movement brain breaks throughout the day.

“This is going to be a unique experience for students in the greater Columbia area,” said Melissa Rabon, Executive Director. “No other school exists like this in our area and the fact that it will be free for families is a huge benefit. Parents will finally have access to specialized reading instruction that would normally cost them thousands of dollars to receive. We are excited to set the PACE for new academic success for these students!”


For more information about PACE Academy or how to volunteer or donate, please visit our website ( or email