Outside looking in

Andrew Small celebrates a run Tuesday during a game at the Hanahan Recreation Department ballfield.

When Traci and Daniel Small decided to build a home in The Reserve in Hanahan, their builder told them their children would attend the city's schools, the couple said.

They later learned that although they lived in Hanahan, their children would have to attend schools in Goose Creek. So they enrolled their son at Goose Creek Primary School, then went to sign up for baseball with Goose Creek's Recreation Department. They learned that their son, Andrew, who's now 8 years old, has to play baseball through the Hanahan Recreation Department because he lives in Hanahan. The Smalls want their children to attend school and play sports with the same children so they can grow up with a sense of community. And they want Hanahan to be that community.

"Everything we do is in Hanahan except school," Traci Small said. "And we pay taxes there."

They're one of many families and Hanahan city officials asking the Berkeley County School Board to change the attendance zone so all the children of Hanahan can attend the city's schools. Now, about 10 percent of the city's students must attend schools in Goose Creek, Hanahan Mayor Minnie Blackwell said. Those students live in newer housing developments in the northern part of the city. The city annexed the land in the early part of the decade, she said. Hanahan's population was aging, she said, and although city officials respect the senior population, they wanted to bring in more families to make the area more diverse.

School board Chairman Doug Cooper said the district soon will hire a consultant to review the district's enrollment and attendance lines, and make recommendations on where it should build new schools. The district will consider the Hanahan community's request within the scope of the larger review. After the consultant is hired, the review will likely take about six months, he said.

Blackwell and several Hanahan families addressed the school board late last month and asked members to change the attendance lines. The mayor said City Council passed a resolution in 2004 in support of the district changing attendance zones so all Hanahan students could attend Hanahan schools. But that hasn't happened yet, Blackwell said.

School board member Kent Murray said he supports the change and has made that clear to his fellow board members.

Other Hanahan neighborhoods zoned for Goose Creek schools include Hanahan Plantation, Briarwood, Carlton Place and Kensington.

Danny and Robin Dotter are still hoping the change goes through before the start of the school year. That's when their son Jackson, who is 5, starts kindergarten.

The Dotters built a home in The Reserve so they could raise their children in the Hanahan community. Like the Smalls, they said a builder told them the area was zoned for Hanahan schools. Danny Dotter graduated from Hanahan High School in 1983 and wanted his children to attend Hanahan schools as well. The Dotters weren't worried at first when they learned their neighborhood was zoned for Goose Creek schools.

Goose Creek Primary, where their son was supposed to start school, didn't meet all of the targets of the federal No Child Left Behind law so parents had the option of enrolling their children in higher-performing schools. The Dotters were simply going to choose to send Jackson to Hanahan Elementary.

But starting in the 2009-2010 school year, Hanahan Elementary will not be a "receiving school" under the law.

Sheldon Etheridge, the school district's director of federal programs, said that's mostly because classes are getting too large at Hanahan Elementary.

Danny Dotter said he's certain that most of his neighbors also want their children to attend Hanahan schools. His wife started a petition and quickly gathered 80 signatures from homeowners in The Reserve, he said. His neighbors share his desire for community, he said.

"If Goose Creek Primary was the best school in the county, I would still want them to go to Hanahan," Dotter said.

Murray said he thinks this is a matter to be taken seriously. "This isn't something that's going to fall under the table and people are going to forget about it," he said. "This is an ongoing thing."