||Last Updated: Jun 26, 2013 - 9:42:30 AM
Berkeley County School District representatives say they are still weighing their options with regards to selecting a site for a second new school to serve the Daniel Island and Cainhoy communities. Negotiations are already underway for the purchase of a parcel of land off Clements Ferry Road for a new high school.
Last November, Berkeley County voters passed a $198 million bond referendum that will fund a total of five new schools in the district, including the two for the Daniel Island area, and renovations to some 29 other facilities.
The “YES4Schools” campaign served as a private initiative led by community citizens and volunteers who worked to promote the referendum last fall. Prior to the election, YES4Schools spokesperson Laura Varn and City of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley stated that the second facility would likely be a middle school and that district officials and the Daniel Island Company were working collaboratively to place the school on Daniel Island.
When asked to clarify the district’s intentions on grade configurations and potential locations for the new school, spokesperson Amy Kovach said that both Varn and Mayor Riley were correct that the district is “considering a middle school on Daniel Island,” but she added that they are also looking into the possibility of “elementary configurations.” Kovach further stated that the district is exploring available land options (not just on Daniel Island) that meet all of their needs for space requirements, traffic issues, and land use, as well as state regulations regarding health and environmental resources.
“No final decisions on this second school have been made,” she added.
Last March, Kovach told The Daniel Island News that community meetings would eventually be planned to gather public input, once they have meaningful or relevant information to provide.
“As soon as we do have information to share, we will advertise and communicate for attendance at community meetings and provide opportunities for input and feedback,” she said.
The Daniel Island Company president Matt Sloan has consistently stated his preference that a second school be located on Daniel Island and has worked with district officials to find an appropriate location on the island. Sloan explained that The Daniel Island Company donated the land to the school district for the existing K-8 Daniel Island School with the understanding that those grades would always be located on Daniel Island.
Sloan said that The Daniel Island Company recently submitted four possible locations to the district in response to the district’s request for sites for the second school – two are located at the end of Seven Farms Drive beyond Bishop England and the Talison Row/Greystar apartment complexes and two are located near the Daniel Island I-526 interchange.
“It's complicated,” Sloan said. “The District has acreage and program requirements in the Middle School RFP that make a Daniel Island location difficult if not impossible. We asked them to look at an elementary school and convert the existing school to all middle school.”
He also noted that if the district scaled back on program requirements, and built similar to Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant, that island locations would be more feasible.
Sloan said the two locations on Seven Farms Drive are smaller and appropriate for an elementary school and that the two tracts near the interchange are larger and suitable for a middle school but he noted that those sites are more costly to develop.
Suzanne Detar also contributed to this story.