BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (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 county’s 2022-2023 budget, about $24 million of the $48.7 million total is dedicated to new construction. Board Chair David Barrow says this is an absolute must just to keep up with the surrounding area and accommodate students.
“Well, an informed community is one that understands the need and also the means, why we have schools, how we’re going to fund it,” Barrow says.
In 2012, citizens voted on a $198 million bond that built five schools across the county and supported a number of other smaller projects. Superintendent Deon Jackson, who took over the role in the summer of 2021, says some schools are still operating at over capacity.
“Growth has already caught up and exceeded that capacity that was created through that construction program,” Jackson says.
The new Carolyn Lewis School at Carnes Crossroads is expected to open next fall after about a year of construction, but the plans don’t stop there.
Recently, the district and board have reconfigured attendance lines to temporarily relieve overcrowding. They are also working to secure school development impact fees from new housing developments, but say the money will come slowly.
This year the county has a penny tax on the ballot, asking voters to consider a penny on sales to fund school projects for the next seven years.
“We want to ease congestion and plan for future growth, and we believe this seven-year capital plan is the right plan to address the immediate problem of congestion, but also the anticipated growth,” says Barrow.
Included in the list of tax projects are three new K-8 schools in Nexton, Jedburg and the Highway 52 corridor. The penny tax would also fund renovations and expansions at Berkeley Middle School, Cane Bay Middle School, Goose Creek Middle School, Hanahan Middle School. The rest of the 15 total penny tax projects are athletic improvements at BCSD high schools.
The district hosted three informational meetings between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 to talk with families about handling the increase and hoping to fund future projects. Officials project that the penny tax, if approved, would generate about $45 million annually with 30%-40% of the financing generated by non-residents buying in the area.
You can read more about the penny tax by clicking here.
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