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Schools Last Updated: Apr 1, 2014 - 8:13:09 PM

CCSD clarifies response to high school question
By Elizabeth Bush
Apr 1, 2014 - 8:12:07 PM

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Says ‘No one knows at this point’ what high school DI students
will attend

Wando High School (WHS) is still a potential option for Daniel Island students, if the island is fully annexed into Charleston County. But it’s far from a done deal.
A Charleston County School District (CCSD) report prepared for the Daniel Island Annexation Commission initially pointed to the likelihood that Daniel Islanders in grades 9-12 would potentially attend WHS, which now serves more than 3,700 students on a 100-acre campus. But a review by the Charleston County School Board prior to the report’s release to the Commission resulted in a clarification, said Michael Bobby, the district’s chief financial and operating officer.
“Our board…before they authorized the release of the information, directed our staff to remove the section that said Wando High School would likely be the school of attendance for high school-aged children in this area,” noted Bobby. “It doesn’t mean that wouldn’t be the case. It’s just that they are not ready to make a commitment at this point.”
The report indicated that Daniel Island would possibly be included in Constituent District 2 in Charleston County, which includes all of Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. But Bobby said a case could also be made for the island to be part of Constituent District 4 in North Charleston.
“There is a lot of logic behind why it would fit in District 2, and as to why it would connect with District 4 geographically, but the board just wasn’t ready to take that position,” he said. “There is not a binding commitment on any of this. Until such time as there is an official action that makes this happen, the board will continue to study this issue. Bobby did acknowledge that planning for a second high school in Mount Pleasant, to alleviate overcrowding at WHS, is currently underway. The new school could possibly be located in the East Cooper area, he said, which would of course be closer to Daniel Island than WHS.
“These are all things that no one knows at this point. We know a second high school will come in District 2, but we haven’t declared a location. The board has not taken a position yet. We are at a place where there are a lot of variables. To discuss possibilities is certainly part of the process, but the board cannot say at this point what they see happening.”
Further complicating matters is the fact that the district and school board do not have the power to modify the boundaries of Constituent Districts, added Bobby.
“It is possible that there could even be a legislative act required to place Daniel Island into a Constituent District…We aren’t ready to talk about the high school attendance area with which the Daniel Island high school student population would be associated. Until this Constituent District boundary issue is resolved, any decision will be premature.”
The CCSD also indicated that the district would consider placing a “special assessment” on Daniel Island residents, in the event of a successful annexation and subsequent shifting of school district boundaries, to pay for acquisition of the Daniel Island School facility. Bobby did not indicate what that assessment might be.
“We’ve got a sense of what it cost to build (the school), we’ve got a sense of how long the debt is in place to pay it off, we’ve got a sense of the way in which the debt was structured…. and we’ve got a sense of what it would cost to pay it off,” said Bobby. “I would expect if the time ever comes to the place where we’re talking about doing something with that building, our board would have to talk with Berkeley County School Board. The two boards have to get together and figure out how to fairly treat one another in that respect.”
Overall, Bobby noted that island residents would ultimately see a tax reduction.
“We think there is enough room in the amount of millage that is assessed already, that you could leave all or a portion of that tax on the books until such time as the school burden is paid for. The special assessment would pay for the building, and what’s left would be a tax reduction…and we haven’t gone so far as to determine exactly what that is.”
As far as how the CCSD feels about the possibility of adding the Daniel Island community to its district, Bobby again said that is a difficult question to answer.
“The majority of the board supported sending the material (in the report),” he said. “We never asked for any of this. However, now that it’s on the table, would having the Daniel Island School and community join Charleston County generally be a positive thing? It probably would be. There are always things that have to be fully developed before we say it’s a perfectly positive scenario.”
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