Berkeley wants Daniel Island, Cainhoy to study middle school site options
It was a tale of two communities on Monday as residents of Daniel Island and Cainhoy areas heard potential plans to build new schools in their part of Berkeley County.
Option 1: Build a new middle school on Daniel Island; make Daniel Island and Cainhoy K-5.
Option 2: Build a new middle school on Clements Ferry Road near the planned high school; make Daniel Island and Cainhoy schools K-5.
Option 3: Build a magnet middle school near the proposed high school that could open as a middle school and possibly expand to K-8; Daniel Island and Cainhoy grade configurations to be determined.
Saying they bought into a pedestrian lifestyle, Daniel Island residents want a new middle school built on the island, while residents of Cainhoy said their children have the longest commutes in the county and deserve schools closer to home.
By the numbers
Cainhoy Elementary/Middle School:
344 - Students attending the school.
(The school is undercapacity, but total capacity was unavailable.)
Daniel Island School:
1,200 - Students the school was built to hold
1,369 - Students enrolled
900 - Students with a Daniel Island address
454 - Students who live in the school’s attendance zone but not on Daniel Island
15 - Students whose addresses are not within the attendance zone (children of employees or grandfathered in by the 2006 No Child Left Behind law)
* As of Sept. 17
The Berkeley County School Board held two meetings — one at Daniel Island School with about 300 residents followed by a second Cainhoy Elementary/Middle School with about 200 people — during which three options were presented for elementary and middle school configurations in the area.
Residents at the meetings also aired grievances about board members, transparency within the district, traffic issues and the possibility that Daniel Island will switch from Berkeley to Charleston county. Some even asked if a second referendum should be held to see if voters would support building a new elementary school instead of a middle school.
District Superintendent Rodney Thompson stressed that the options presented Monday are not the only possibilities and announced plans to form a committee of community members to study the issue and present a proposal to him by Nov. 22.
In November, Berkeley County voters supported a $198 million school improvement program that includes a new middle school and a new high school in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy area.
Plans also call for elementary schools at Nexton, Tanner Plantation and FoxBank communities.
Voters in and around Daniel Island supported the Yes 4 Schools referendum by a 70-30 ratio, but in recent months, the issue has divided residents. About $100 million of the $198 million referendum will be spent on two schools for the area.
In June, the district announced that the high school will be built on Clements Ferry Road, about halfway between Daniel Island and Cainhoy schools, which are 17 miles apart. It is slated to open in August 2017.
But the location of the middle school is in question and has become somewhat of a turf war.
Thompson sent a letter to area residents on Sept. 17 that said, in part, “I am deeply concerned about rumors circulating which are distracting resources, time and attention away from our mission.”
On Monday, he stressed that he wants input from the community.
“I don’t want anyone to think this is just a formality,” he said. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I want the committee to take a look at the options and make a recommendation and then the Board of Education will make a decision based on the best option for our children county-wide.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.