Daniel Island residents question makeup of school committee
After hearing concerns Monday about the location of a new school, the Berkeley County School District is moving ahead by forming a committee to study the options.
Committee members’ requirements
The committee will include up to 25 members who will be split into two groups: site selection and grade configuration/magnet possibilities.
Members will include:
School board members Doug Cooper and Frank Wright;
Up to four delegates from the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association;
Up to two delegates from all other homeowners ’ associations;
Two PTA members from both Daniel Island School and Cainhoy Elementary/Middle School;
Two Cainhoy area residents (that are not with a homeowners’ association);
Members (except board members and teachers) must have at least one child in the Berkeley County School District, and all members must be able to:
Volunteer up to five hours per week;
Collect community feedback and share it without bias;
Attend meetings on and off Daniel Island;
Use the district website to communicate.
Contact information for potential members should be sent to communications @bcsdschools.net.
The district plans to build a new middle school in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy area to ease overcrowding at Daniel Island School, but the site and grade configuration has been a topic of debate.
Options include building a school on Daniel Island or Clements Ferry Road or building a magnet school on Clements Ferry Road. The school is limited to middle school grades because that’s what voters approved, Superintendent Rodney Thompson said.
The committee will include people from several groups and organizations, including two representatives from Cainhoy and each homeowners’ association and four from the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association.
“We can’t have all 200 or 300 of us in a room working on this, so we are going to have to find those people to represent you,” Thompson said Monday.
Still, some Daniel Island residents questioned the committee’s makeup, given the fact that 66 percent of the students at Daniel Island School live on the island.
“It is absolutely disproportionate representation, no doubt about it,” said resident Rindy Ryan, a supporter of keeping kindergarten through 8th grade on the island. “Daniel Island’s voice will be muffled, given the makeup of this committee.”
Ryan Gilsenan, another resident who wants students to stay on the island, agreed.
“You could have a neighborhood with 20 houses that gets the same number of representatives as a neighborhood with 1,000 houses on it,” he said. “The committee should be proportional, such as one committee seat per 500 residents.”
He also questioned whether the district will heed the committee’s input.
“If we really are legally limited by the wording on the ballot ... time and effort put forth by the committee may very well be an exercise in futility and frustration,” he said.
DINA president Dave Williams said “it seems like the process is a done deal” because the district’s website references a Clements Ferry Road area middle school on a page about proposed attendance lines.
But Thompson said he wants to see what options the committee can come up with and he is “confident that working together we can find an option that we can all live with.”
The committee will meet for the first time Wednesday with a goal of giving Thompson a recommendation by Nov. 22. The school board’s nine members must approve a decision by a majority vote.
The district has posted Monday’s presentation and more on its website, www.berkeley.k12.sc.us, under the “community” tab.