Berkeley County juggling growth and need for new schools

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 2:26 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2021 at 8:02 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Growth right now in Berkeley County is exponential.

According to the county supervisor, Johnny Cribb, in the last decade Berkeley County grew by 52,000 people. Cribb says that’s the second fastest in the state and the top 1% in the nation.

With new developments like Cane Bay, Nexton and Carnes Crossroads, Cribb says they’re playing a tremendous game of catch up. And it’s not just the county, the school district is as well.

“It’s basically the fact that some schools are overcrowded,” Berkeley County School District’s Board Chair David Barrow says.

Right now, there are 36,000 students enrolled in the Berkeley County School District. Barrow says projections continue to show a growth of at least 700 to 1,000 students per year which is enough students for an entire new school every year.

On one hand BCSD is working to maximize the facilities they already have. But, they’re also looking at ways to fund new capital projects in the areas being developed.

“We basically have prototype models already for the elementary, middle and for the K-8,” Barrow says. “Those are architectural designs that we actually own, so that when we do build another elementary or middle school, we have those prototype plans so it doesn’t cost as much. The growth is there. The plan is there. The prototype models are in place. It’s just a matter of funding.”

Cribb feels new growth should be the one to foot the bill.

“Growth needs to pay for that new school,” Cribb says. “You can’t tell me that the property value of that home and that lot to be able to go to a school within your community. You know, on Daniel Island, their biggest struggle is bike racks, not buses and cars. So whenever you embed a school within a community, they’ll get that tenfold back. So that needs to happen more often.”

Those with the school district say they are working with developers to possibly have land donated for future school locations. They add, while it’s a challenge, they don’t anticipate raising taxes or asking for a new bond referendum at this point in time.

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