Daniel Islanders to continue exploring switch to Charleston County
Daniel Islanders still plan to look at the possibility of joining Charleston County, even though they learned Tuesday that their children will continue attending school on the island through eighth grade.
In August, the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association asked the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association to investigate a switch from Berkeley County to Charleston County. The island is within the Charleston city limits.
Fears that a new middle school would be built on Clements Ferry Road and that the island’s middle-schoolers would be sent there kick-started the effort, which began with the circulation of a petition.
“Will (the news) affect our desire to submit the petition? No,” said DINA president Dave Williams. “Will it affect the voters and possibly make it tougher to garner a 67 percent majority (needed) to change counties? Sure.”
Williams and others hailed Superintendent Rodney Thompson’s Tuesday announcement as a win for the island. Thompson said he will honor a 2003 agreement made by then-Superintendent Chester Floyd to keep students on the island through eighth grade.
“Keeping K-8 on Daniel Island is a victory for all the hard-working volunteers that have taken the time to fight for this cause,” Williams said. “The residents who love our community school and moved here to be a part of that should be very thankful.”
Thompson said he hoped the decision would keep people from blaming the district for annexation talk. District officials had expressed doubts about whether the switch would also include school district lines anyway.
At a DINA meeting on Oct. 15, Williams said the school district’s actions would not affect the filing of the petition, but that it could change how people vote.
The petition asking to allow residents to vote on the issue, which required signatures from 10 percent of the island’s approximately 4,850 voters, garnered about 750 signatures, Williams said.
“We still plan to submit it but before we can talk about when, we have to get all the signatures verified, which means making sure everyone that signed it is legally capable of doing so,” he said.
After the petition is submitted to Gov. Nikki Haley, she will appoint a four-person committee to study the issue, and then the question will be put to voters. Two-thirds of Daniel Island’s registered voters have to support it for the measure to pass, and Charleston County residents have to vote by majority to accept the island. If it fails to garner enough support, the issue cannot be brought up again for four years.
“We simply want to provide the process for all the residents who think Berkeley County is not providing us with proper representation or for those who think we have more in common, or may just be a better fit with Charleston County,” Williams said.
Other issues include taxes; basic services, such as curbside recycling, mosquito abatement and emergency response times; and expanded services such as libraries and access to county parks.
“The whole point of the petition (is) to get those answers so our residents, who pay a premium to live here, can decide for themselves, “ Williams said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.