DD2 details potential timeline to reduce school populations, community responds

DD2 Board of Trustees and Superintendent Shane Robbins announced Monday night a tentative plan to reduce the chance of overcrowding in multiple area schools.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2023 at 7:24 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Members of the Dorchester District Two Board of Trustees and Superintendent Shane Robbins announced Monday night a tentative plan to reduce the chance of overcrowding in multiple area schools.

The district says new growth in parts of Dorchester County and the attempt to balance student populations due to the increased development is the reasoning behind this new plan.

“It’s not without secret there’s a lot of construction taking place in the community,” Robbins said. “I wouldn’t say the increase in enrollment is overwhelming, but it is putting some strain on some of the buildings in the district.”

It is a trend both the district and families say they have seen at six schools in the Ashley River area.

Those schools, according to the board, are Sand Hill Elementary, Beech Hill Elementary, Willaim Reeves Elementary, East Edisto Middle, Ashley Ridge High and Summerville High.

“We hear about the class sizes and all those things,” Dorchester County neighbor Bob Koch said. “I don’t know, I have a tough time learning in a group setting. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a kid to have to share attention with 30 other kids.”

According to Robbins, some schools currently have 50-100 more students than they should.

Predicted analytics from the district also show school populations tripling in size within the next decade without any action taken to reduce it.

“They would be close to 3000 students in those structures designed to hold 1100 students,” Robbins said.

The district named four potential solutions: rezoning, bringing in learning cottages, building additional wings or an entirely new facility.

That list ranges from least to most expensive and time-consuming.

While rezoning sits at the top of the list, families in the area think otherwise.

One parent near Sand Hill Elementary who did not want to be named says the school was a deciding factor for the family’s big move.

“It definitely makes me feel a little uneasy. I did come from a big city where schools were right next door. But since district lines changed, you had to go 3-4 miles away. You couldn’t walk to school anymore.”

Koch, another nearby neighbor, agrees it creates a challenge.

“As a parent, when I went to public school and when you have kids going to public school, you want it to be as convenient as possible, that’s a big goal behind it,” Koch said.

Included in the timeline are at least two spots for public input.

The district says it is a priority for them that this change helps everyone involved.

“Whatever recommendations or courses of action we bring to the board, we’ll do such so they’re long-term solutions and not something we have to continue to revisit every 12, 24, 36 months,” Robbins said.

Dorchester District Two Board Members are set to speak on this matter on the 25th.

The main goal is to conduct a final vote in January of next year.

For more information on the plan and how you can make public comment, click here.