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Berkeley Co. schools board members look for compromises in proposed attendance lines

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:36 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 4:15 AM EST
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District is looking for compromises to the proposed attendance lines that were met with objections when presented on Nov. 9.

“We have got to do something. We have got to have some reasonable alternatives to what we have now because the vote the other night did not pass,” said board chair David Barrow. “So we either need to do something or some board members change their minds and attitudes about the process. . . we want suggestions.”

As the situation stands now Foxbank Elementary School and Cane Bay Middle School are at more than 100 percent capacity.

The current plan would move students around to relieve pressure and put more students at schools like Bonner Elementary and Macedonia Middle where capacity last year was at 61 percent and 50 percent respectively.

One of the main hang-ups for board member Sally Wofford is in the area of Santee Circle. The updated draft proposal still has families north of the Tailrace Canal attending Bonner Elementary School and Macedonia Middle School instead of Berkeley Middle and Berkeley Intermediate.

“Places where you are driving three or four miles to get to get to Berkeley Intermediate and now you’re driving 12 miles to get to Bonner. Those people are the ones who are struggling the most,” Wofford said. “If you can drive two miles to get to this school and it’s 12 or 14 to get to the other. . . that’s hard for me to [rationalize].”

District leaders say they will be making exceptions for some students if the lines change. In the past they have grandfathered seniors, students involved in extracurriculars and others to minimize the disruption to their social lives.

However, Superintendent Deon Jackson says the last time they did that it was a logical challenge, especially with busing.

“What we learned from the Sangaree back to Stratford move is transportation became an issue,” Jackson said. “Transportation is tough enough and we created another situation.”

The board has requested two additional drafts before the December meeting. One of those drafts would move the Santee Circle area back into its current boundaries. Another would retain all of the students at Cane Bay Middle and Elementary schools and not send any of those kids to the Berkeley campuses. The idea would be to weather the over crowding until the new school in that area could be finished in two years.

The board is expected to take up the proposals on Dec. 14.

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