‘Innovative’ elementary school ready for students

Nexton Elementary is the first of five new schools being built as part of the Berkeley County School District’s $198 million building and renovation program. Photo by Brenda Rindge

Less than 15 months after ground was broken for Nexton Elementary School, Berkeley County officials and residents celebrated the school’s completion Monday.

About 300 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $20 million school, the first of five new schools being built as part of the district’s $198 million building and renovation program.

“We heard so much about it that we had to come see it,” said Allyson Bell, as she toured the school with 3-year-old Porter. “My son won’t start school until next year, but we are excited that he will get to go to a shiny new school.”

The school, at 200 Scholar Way in the new Nexton development in Summerville, is “chock full of new and innovative ideas that will be duplicated in other schools,” said Berkeley County School Board Chairman Jim Hayes. His first act after being elected to the school board last year was to take part in the school’s April 24, 2014, ground-breaking ceremony.

The project was completed on time and on budget, officials said. The district saved on costs by modeling Nexton after Cane Bay Middle School, which opened in 2012 with about a $21 million price tag.

The 105,500-square foot building includes 41 classrooms, two music rooms, two art rooms, a media center, two computer resource labs, and a multi-purpose room with a stage, and a courtyard that can be used as an outside classroom.

The school, organized with each grade level in its own wing, is built for 900 students, but is expecting slightly more than 600 when it opens its doors. It is the district’s first one-to-one school, meaning that students in kindergarten and first grade will be issued iPads while students in second through fifth grades will use Chromebooks.

Nancy Leigh, former principal at Berkeley Intermediate, is the principal of the new school.

The opening means shifts in attendance areas for Cane Bay Elementary, Sangaree Elementary, Sangaree Intermediate and College Park Elementary. Students in the Weatherstone, Carriage Lane, and Tramway areas will move from the Sangaree schools to Nexton, and the Tall Pines area will move from College Park Elementary to the Sangaree schools.

Nexton Elementary School opens to students Aug. 17, the first day of the next school year.

Other planned new schools that are part of the program are: Philip Simmons Elementary and Middle School, expected to open in 2016, and Philip Simmons High School, planned for 2017, both off Clements Ferry Road; a new elementary school in the Tanner Plantation/Foster Creek area expected to open in 2017; and Foxbank Elementary, set for 2018.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.