Who: Daniel Island Annexation Commission
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Multi-purpose room, Daniel Island School
Included on the agenda: Attorney General's opinion on how an annexation would affect school district lines and answers from Charleston County School District.
Daniel Island's students could attend School of the Arts, Military Magnet or any number of other county magnet or partial magnet programs if the island joins the Charleston County School District.
But the Charleston County School Board stopped short of saying Daniel Island's high schoolers would attend Mount Pleasant's Wando High School when it answered questions last week asked by the Daniel Island Annexation Commission, which is studying a possible move by Daniel Island from Berkeley County to Charleston County.
"It seems to me like that's better just left unsaid, unless you want to make it North Charleston, and I'll agree with that," said board member Tom Ducker.
"We all know that North Charleston is closer to Daniel Island than Wando High School," board member Michael Miller said.
The distance from Daniel Island School to North Charleston High School is just over 8 miles, while Wando High is nearly 13 miles away, but some Daniel Island residents have expressed a preference to have their children attend East Cooper schools. Their high schoolers now attend Hanahan High in Berkeley County.
"That's not giving us much hope that what we're going to find on the other side of the county line is going to be any better than what we have right now," Rindy Ryan, a Daniel Island parent, said of Charleston County's answers. "What we have right now is pretty darn attractive with Berkeley County."
The Berkeley County School District plans to build a new K-8 school of choice on 25 acres donated by Cainhoy Land and Timber on Clements Ferry Road, scheduled to open in August 2016, and a high school next to it that will open the following year.
In addition, it plans to leave intact the current kindergarten-through-eighth Daniel Island School.
The point may be moot anyway, because a Feb. 28 Attorney General's opinion said that, if Daniel Island votes to move to Charleston County, the school district lines may not change, but state law would require action by the districts or the general assembly either way.
The questions for the Charleston County School District arose as the result of an effort by the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association and the Daniel Island Property Owners Association to discern which county is best for residents. At issue are county services, property taxes and schools. Daniel Island is in the city of Charleston and Berkeley County.
Gov. Nikki Haley appointed a four-member commission in December to study a proposal to switch the island to Charleston County. The board comprises Michael White and John Tiencken, both of Daniel Island, Shirley Hinson of Goose Creek and John West of Moncks Corner.
The commission, which is charged with reporting back to Haley, has held two meetings and has a third set for March 20.
As part of its fact-finding mission, the commission asked for information from the school district.
"Answering the questions creates no opinion," Charleston County School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats said, and Charleston County's answers are not binding.
The island would be in District 2, which includes Mount Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms, according to the document. Although that includes Wando, the district has plans to build a second high school in East Cooper, and Daniel Island students likely would be sent there.
The district would buy the existing Daniel Island School, keep any teachers and principals who want to stay, and allow current students, including those who do not live on Daniel Island, to continue attending, according to the document. About 450 of the school's 1,370 students do not live on Daniel Island, according to the district.
Residents could face a special assessment to pay for the building and its associated costs.
If Daniel Island School becomes overcrowded, middle school students could be bused to a Mount Pleasant middle school, most likely Moultrie or Laing, according to the Charleston County School District. Conversely, if the school's population diminishes, Mount Pleasant students could be sent to Daniel Island.
The annexation commission is set to discuss the Attorney General's opinion and the information from the Charleston County School District at its meeting on Thursday.
It will eventually present its findings to Haley, who will order an election. If Daniel Island voters pass the measure by a two-thirds margin, a majority of Charleston County voters must then vote to accept the island before the county line is moved.
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