By the middle of this century, the area between Summerville and Moncks Corner could have more residents than the town of Summerville had in 2010.
Voters in Berkeley County approved a $198 million bond referendum in November 2012 to renovate old schools and build new ones, and Dorchester District 2 voters approved a referendum for $179 million.
Berkeley County's projected school openings:
*Nexton Elementary School - August 2015
Tanner/Foster Creek area elementary school - May 2016
Clements Ferry Road middle school - August 2016
Cainhoy/Daniel Island high school - August 2017
Foxbank area elementary school - August 2018
*Nexton is the only school that has been officially named so far.
Dorchester District 2 projected openings:
Alston-Bailey Elementary (adjacent to Alston Middle School) - August 2015
Dr. Eugene Sires Elementary School (off Miles-Jamison Road) - August 2015
Sand Hill Elementary (at Summers Drive on the East Edisto tract) - August 2015
Rollings Middle School of the Arts (at Summers Drive on the East Edisto tract) - August 2016
That prospect both excites and scares Sangaree resident Ian McDuffy.
What: Groundbreaking ceremony for Nexton Elementary School
Where: Nexton - take exit 199-B from I-26, turn left on Sigma Drive and follow the signs
When: 2:30 p.m. Monday
"Traffic is already horrible and I worry about it getting worse," he said. "At the same time, it sounds like there will be some great new opportunities coming this way."
Several developments are planned for the U.S Highway 17A corridor. The three biggest - Cane Bay, Carnes Crossroads and Nexton, together total more than 11,000 acres and expect to have almost 25,000 homes when finished.
As a result of the growth, the nearby Carnes Crossroads, where U.S. highways 17A and 176 intersect, "will be the busiest intersection in South Carolina within 12 years," said Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler.
All those new residents will create additional stress on already overcrowded Berkeley County schools, officials say.
For the last several years, the district has grown to the tune of several hundred students per year. This year, there are about 900 new students in Berkeley County, which has about 30,000 students countywide.
Nearby Cane Bay High School opened in 2008 followed by Cane Bay Elementary School in 2009, and Cane Bay Middle School in 2012, but growth in the county continues to outpace the number of desks for students and more than a third of the district's schools are at or over capacity.
In 2012, voters in the county passed a $198 million Yes 4 Schools referendum to build five new schools and renovate 29 others.
Now, ground is being officially broken for the first of those new schools, Nexton Elementary School, although work started on the site weeks ago. The first groundbreaking ceremony, set for March 5, was rained out.
Two other elementary schools, a middle school and a high school are in the planning stages in other areas of Berkeley County and are scheduled to open at a rate of one per year through 2018.
The 900-student Nexton school will be part of the neighborhood's Brighton Park Village and is slated to open in time for the 2015-2016 school year. It is estimated to cost about $20 million.
Neighboring Dorchester District 2 also had a Yes 4 Schools referendum in 2012. Theirs was for $179 million to build three elementary schools and a middle school of the arts, and to renovate several existing schools.
Dorchester plans to open the elementary schools in 2015 and the middle school in 2016, but has not yet broken ground on any of the projects.
By the time Nexton Elementary opens, it will have several neighbors. The first residents are expected to move in by the end of the year.
Nexton is a 4,500-acre tract being developed by MeadWestvaco as an area for people to live, work and play. It will also be South Carolina's most technologically advanced community, offering GigaFi, a "One Gig" network connection.
The development is slated to have parks and 50 miles of trails winding through 10,000 homes and 6 million square feet of retail space full of restaurants, retail stores and offices.
Over the last six months, heavy equipment has moved in as construction has started on infrastructure, a park, a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, a Carolina Ale House restaurant and Parks at Nexton, a 320-unit apartment complex. In February, Palmetto Primary Care Physicians and Equity Inc. announced intentions to build a state of the art medical campus at Nexton.
Nexton will also be the home of the South Carolina Research Authority.
"With Nexton's first Class A office building under construction and SCRA, Carolina Ale House and The Parks apartments soon to be underway, Nexton is truly coming to life," said Kenneth T. Seeger, president of MWV Community Development and Land Management.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
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