District: 'Phenomenal' growth in Berkeley County Schools

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The number of students in the Berkeley County School District is booming.

A recent study from the Strom Thurmond Institute shows the district needs to build more than twenty schools by 2035, to accommodate the 55,000 students expected that year.

Right now the district has 32,330 students, more than the estimate expected for 2016-2017.

"We have experienced exponential growth," Dr. Lee Westberry, principal at Cane Bay High School said. "We've felt a lot of urban sprawl in Berkeley County over the years," adding the arrival of new industries like Boeing, Google—and soon Volvo—impact school population.

Westberry said the growth is going to continue so the administration is getting creative about space restrictions in classrooms and schools.

Parent Sandi Reynolds has noticed the increase in students but has seen the benefits in extra programming and a diverse school body.

"They've added a lot of extracurricular clubs for the kids. They get to meet a lot of people in the school that they may not come across otherwise,"
Reynolds said.

Westberry, too, said the rapid growth offers the unexpected benefit of a diverse population.

"We have had families from all over the country and from outside the country move in this summer."

But there's a limit.

Westberry expects the school will one day max out on space.

"That's going to be our biggest challenge," she said, adding that she wants to maintain the family atmosphere, even in a large school.

"It's a very family feel in this school. I don't want to go to a school where a student walks across the stage for graduation, and I don't know them…that hasn't happened yet," Westberry said. "Every senior I shake their hand, I know that kid. I want to make sure it stays that way." 

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