Berkeley County School District continues to work to accommodate growth

The Berkeley County School District continues to work to accommodate the growing population in the area.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 9:59 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 4:05 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District continues to work to accommodate the growing population in the area. Officials say the new developments are quickly bringing in new families and students who need to be accommodated.

In the 2022-2023 district budget, about $24 million of the total $48.7 million is dedicated to new construction. Board Chair David Barrow says this is an absolute necessity just to keep up with the surrounding area and accommodate students.

“Well, an informed community is one that understands the need and also the wherewithal, why we have to have schools, how we’re going to fund it,” Barrow says.

In 2012, citizens voted for a $198 million bond that built five schools across the district and supported a number of other smaller projects. Superintendent Deon Jackson, who took over the role in the summer of 2021, says still some schools are operating at over capacity.

“The growth has already caught up and surpassed that capacity that was established through that building program,” Jackson says.

The new Carolyn Lewis School in Carnes Crossroads is expected to open next fall after about a year of construction, but that’s not where the plans stop.

Recently, the district and board have reconfigured attendance lines to alleviate overcrowding temporarily. They are also working to secure school development impact fees from incoming housing developments but say that money will come in slowly.

This year the district has a penny tax on the ballot, asking voters to consider a one cent sales tax to fund school projects for the next seven years.

“We want to relieve the overcrowding and plan for the future growth and we believe that this seven-year capital plan is the right plan to address the immediate problem of overcrowding, but also the anticipated growth,” Barrow says.

Included in the tax project list are three new K-8 schools in Nexton, Jedburg and in the Highway 52 corridor. The penny tax would also fund renovations and expansions at Berkeley High School, Cane Bay High School, Goose Creek High School, Hanahan Middle School. The rest of the 15 total penny tax projects are athletic upgrades to BCSD high schools.

The district hosted three informational meetings between November 1 and November 3 to talk to families about handling the growth and hope to fund future projects. Officials project the penny tax, if approved, to generate about $45 million a year with 30%-40% of the funding created by non-residents buying in the area.

You can read more about the penny tax by clicking here.