Published, Friday, October 8, 2021
Updated, Monday, October 11, 2021
At the September 14, 2021 meeting of the Berkeley County Board of Education Finance and Capital Planning Committee, the Board received information concerning the projected BCSD Membership Forecast. Recommendations to adjust grade configuration and attendance lines were presented to address growth and maximize facility usage in the Berkeley High and Timberland High feeder patterns.
If your child is zoned to attend school in the Berkeley High and Timberland feeder patterns, please review the draft maps of the changes to attendance lines and grade configurations here: https://www.bcsdschools.net/cms/lib/SC01916775/Centricity/Domain/4/Lines_draft_10821.pdf
You can also enter your address here to review the draft changes that may impact your child(ren): https://gis.berkeleycountysc.gov/maps/school_system/future.html
NOTE: These frequently asked questions will be regularly updated as new questions and topics are brought to our attention. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us at email@example.com.
PLEASE ALSO NOTE: These are draft recommendations that must be presented before the Board of Education for approval. The Board has not taken a vote on these draft recommendations at this time. The next meeting of the Board, during which this issue will be discussed, is scheduled for November 9, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. There is a scheduled Board meeting for October 26, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. but the grade configuration and attendance line proposal is not an agenda item for that meeting.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why are these changes being proposed?
Berkeley County is the second-fastest-growing county in South Carolina, new census data has shown. This has had a significant impact on our schools as the growth is centralized, currently, in certain pockets, which has resulted in overcrowding in some area schools. This proposal addresses facility utilization by optimizing space for efficient use of the buildings to reduce overcrowding in existing schools.
As the county will continue to see an increase in growth for many years to come, BCSD is committed to being a good steward of taxpayer funding and providing efficient transportation for our students and families. These changes will assist us by maximizing facility usage, before investing in new construction, and will better support the transportation routing system.
How will these changes affect Berkeley Elementary and Berkeley Intermediate?
The current proposal for Berkeley Elementary and Berkeley Intermediate includes grade configuration changes and attendance lines changes affecting both schools. Berkeley Elementary currently serves students in grades pre-k through second. Berkeley Intermediate currently serves students in grades third through fifth, and houses the Head Start program. This proposal will modify grade configurations at both schools. If approved, Berkeley Elementary and Berkeley Intermediate will both serve students in grades pre-k through fifth grade.
Attendance lines will also be impacted in the Moncks Corner area as these grade configuration changes will result in two pre-K - fifth grade schools, and all students living north of the Tailrace Canal are proposed to attend schools in the H.E. Bonner Elementary, Macedonia Middle and Timberland High feeder pattern. Please review the maps carefully to see which school(s) your child(ren) will attend in August 2022.
I am unfamiliar with H.E. Bonner Elementary, Macedonia Middle and Timberland High. What can you tell me about the schools and how can I learn more?
H.E. Bonner Elementary is a partial-magnet school for the arts. Similar to the Goose Creek area’s Howe Hall AIMS, H.E. Bonner Elementary provides students with an arts-enriched learning environment. Learn more about H. E. Bonner’s arts education journey here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urKU4RQkoeg&t=117s
Macedonia Middle focuses their students’ educational journeys on creativity. This middle school boasts a positive school climate and culture, commitment to academic excellence, and innovative student learning activities, to include the District’s first virtual learning lab. Learn more about Macedonia Middle here: https://youtu.be/m9Hmy5NsmnAlist=PLmWekp_RwATJY8HR6tmYdlUFItq5hFz_5
Timberland High has received multi-year recognition by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best High Schools. As the District’s only Early College High School, students can begin dual credit courses as early as 9th grade. Learn more about Timberland High here: https://youtu.be/GrdZDPQuNYs
We encourage families who will be joining these schools in August 2022, to reach out to the administrators to set up a time to tour the schools and learn more about them.
My child(ren) previously attended Foxbank Elementary/Cane Bay Middle/Cane Bay High, and are now proposed to be zoned for Whitesville Elementary, Berkeley Middle and Berkeley High. What can you tell me about the schools and how can I learn more?
Whitesville Elementary is committed to offering students hand-on, personalized learning opportunities. Home to the District’s only Montessori program, Whitesville teachers and staff aim to engage students in the learning process through exploration and innovation. Learn more about Whitesville Elementary here:
Berkeley Middle is the largest middle school in the county, with an award winning Unified Education program. In recent years, Berkeley Middle became a Jostens Renaissance School designed to inspire, motivate and renew a climate and culture of character. Learn more about Berkeley Middle School’s Unified program here: https://youtu.be/FGz9oQqWjjYlist=PLmWekp_RwATKdzDiqBXNvpCsdxdoXrRaA
Berkeley High School is the oldest school in the county, rich in history and tradition. Known for their academic and athletic success, Berkeley High also promotes a culture of inclusion for all students and is a strong supporter of the Special Olympics and Berkeley County Unified programs. Watch as students excitedly sent off their classmates to the District’s 2019 Special Olympics competition:
We encourage families who will be joining these schools in August 2022, to reach out to the administrators to set up a time to tour the schools and learn more about them.
Will these changes impact my child if they will be a senior in August 2022 on track to graduate with their class?
The District has an established process to confirm and recognize students with senior status. Please contact the BCSD Office of Pupil Services at 843-899-8266 for more information.
Will there be academic program exceptions, athletic exceptions or sibling exceptions?
The District will not provide any blanket exceptions to the changes, if approved by the Board. Families are welcome to file attendance appeals with the BCSD Office of Pupil Services. Attendance appeals are determined considering evidence of family and/or student hardship factors.
If my child is already established in an academic or athletic program and/or the school my child is zoned for does not offer their academic or athletic program, would my child be considered for an attendance appeal?
There is a process to address concerns such as these through attendance appeals. Please contact the BCSD Office of Pupil Services 843-899-8266.
Will these attendance line changes positively impact transportation services?
We do anticipate that these changes will have a very positive impact on transportation. At this time, BCSD buses pass by schools with capacity to transport students to school over the Tailrace bridge and across town to Highway 6 (ex: Passing Bonner Elem and transporting to Berkeley Elem). BCSD is also transporting elementary age students in the same household to two different schools across town (ex: Berkeley Elementary second grader and Berkeley Intermediate third grader from the same home). Following natural boundary lines, adjusting grade configurations and maximizing school capacities will help improve the efficiency of the transportation system.
What are the current utilization percentages of impacted schools? The forecast information below is based on current attendance zones and does not include the proposed changes. The proposed changes are targeted to relieve schools that are above, at or nearing capacity and utilize space at schools with capacity to accommodate additional students in neighboring communities.
Utilization* in these schools
- Berkeley ES
- 60% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 76% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Berkeley Intermediate
- 61% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 84% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Berkeley MS
- 84% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 96% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Berkeley HS
- 82% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 94% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Cane Bay MS
- 101% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 154% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Cane Bay HS
- 89% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 104% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Foxbank ES
- 102% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 125% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- H. E .Bonner ES
- 69% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 66% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Macedonia MS
- 50% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 51% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Timberland HS
- 48% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 50% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
- Whitesville ES
- 69% as of Day-135 2020-21
- 92% forecasted Day-135 2030-31
* Utilization = students / calculated capacity. Mobile classrooms are not included.
Why was the Tailrace Canal selected as a boundary separating two attendance zones?
When establishing attendance lines, officials look at natural and manmade boundaries, and existing property lines. This is to help ensure that boundary lines do not appear to be arbitrarily selected. The Tailrace Canal is a natural boundary that is easily recognizable and understood.
What should I do if I discover my child is zoned for elementary and secondary schools in different feeder patterns?
This should not be an issue families identify; however, if you do discover this when checking your address in the BC GIS attendance zone service, please contact the BCSD Pupil Services Office at 843-899-8266. The BC GIS attendance zone service, which includes these proposed changes, can be found here: https://gis.berkeleycountysc.gov/maps/school_system/future.html
What data was collected and analyzed to support the proposed attendance line changes and drafts? What else do you consider when determining school attendance boundaries when rezoning campuses?
The District contracts with Numerix Solutions, LLC to support GIS and demographic analysis, mathematical modeling, membership forecasting and assignment planning. District leaders and Numerix use a variety of tools to develop growth management plans such as GIS planning data and residential growth potential. Additionally, future area developments and projected enrollments are also considered. Best efforts are made to limit future redrawing of attendance lines; however, as Berkeley County continues to grow, additional attendance line changes may be considered to maximize capacity at existing schools and to support construction of new schools, such as the K-8 school currently under construction in the Carnes Crossroads area.
To view the Membership Forecast presentation from the September 14 public meeting of the Board, please click here: http://go.boarddocs.com/sc/berkeley/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=C6MRP56B6BB5
How do I find out if I live in an area that could be rezoned?
Please review the proposed maps emailed to you and posted here. You can also utilize the BC GIS attendance zone service, which includes these proposed changes, here: https://gis.berkeleycountysc.gov/maps/school_system/future.html
Please remember that this is a draft. All changes must be approved by the Board of Education.
How soon is the Board expected to vote on and potentially approve these proposed changes?
The first reading of these proposed changes will take place during the November 9 meeting of the Board of Education.
Will I have an opportunity to review these maps in person?
Yes, BCSD has planned the following opportunities for communities to review the proposed changes:
- October 21 at 6 pm, Berkeley Middle School
- November 2 at 6 pm, Whitesville Elementary School
- November 8 at 6 pm, Macedonia Middle School
When will these proposed changes go into effect?
If approved by the Board of Education, students will attend schools according to these attendance lines in August 2022.
How do I file an attendance appeal?
For information concerning attendance appeals, please contact the BCSD Pupil Services Office at 843-899-8266. We do encourage families to reach out to the school administrators to set up a time to tour the schools and learn more about them before filing attendance appeals. Attendance appeals are determined considering family and/or student hardship factors.
- Berkeley ES
As the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) works to track cases of COVID-19 across the state, there is an understandable delay in reporting confirmed cases in public schools. Berkeley County School District is committed to providing stakeholders with accurate and timely information so the BCSD COVID-19 Case Dashboard has been updated to reflect the number of confirmed cases reported directly to Berkeley County School District. These numbers will be updated every business day to provide our community with a more accurate accounting of confirmed cases in Berkeley County schools.
The content of this database is general information for each location. Any necessary contact tracing is conducted by SCDHEC. This information is updated at the close of each business day. Please note the numbers provided are numbers of confirmed cases reported to the Berkeley County School District and are 14-day cumulative counts.
Join the professionals on our transportation team. As a team member you will be an important part of the education process. Make a difference in education. Bus drivers and bus assistants are key to our students’ success. We are focused on safety, and we’ll train you!
School bus drivers must pass a rigorous background investigation including a SLED check and a DMV records check. School bus drivers must obtain and maintain a commercial driver’s license with passenger and federal school bus endorsements. They are also required to complete 20 hours of classroom instruction and pass a State Department of Education certification exam. As a part of their training, drivers also complete many hours of on the road training and pass a rigorous driving evaluation. Each driver must pass a physical performance test and is subject to random monthly drug screening. Annually, drivers attend a minimum of 15 hours of training to maintain their proficiency.
For employment information contact Ms. Lachell Griffin at (843) 899-8725. Applicants can fill out an online application.
Berkeley County School District is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, handicap or disability in admission to, access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities.
For bus driver training information contact:
Lachell Griffin - Training and Safety Supervisor
PO. Box 608
Moncks Corner, SC 29461
A major misconception about the self-contained preschool classroom at Berkeley Elementary is that all the teachers do with the students is have playtime.
The teachers and administrators at Berkeley Elementary know too well that that is totally wrong.
The class is led by a dynamic duo: Brittany Biletzskov and her assistant Susan Heatley, who can debunk that rumor quickly.
“This classroom is just as important as another classroom,” Biletzskov said.
The teachers have a set of goals they try to achieve with their students – and the ultimate goal is get students to join their peers in general education classes.
“We want to see that progress made to where we’re not having to assist anymore,” Biletzskov said.
Biletzskov is in her seventh year teaching and Heatley has taught for about 20 years. Heatley started off teaching second grade and then kindergarten, and has mostly taught special education.
Both teachers have spent their careers in Berkeley County School District; Biletzskov has always been at Berkeley Elementary. She also has a degree in teaching dance.
“I’ve just always been around kids and it’s what I enjoy doing,” she said.
Biletzskov won the Teaching from the Heart award from BCSD’s Teacher Forum last year and has been nominated four years in a row for Teacher of the Year at Berkeley Elementary.
Special needs education was something new to Biletzskov when she started at the College of Coastal Georgia, but she became intrigued once she started her student teaching. She has a dual degree in general and special education but prefers special education.
“I knew…where I wanted to be was in that special education classroom,” Biletzskov said.
Heatley has moved around a few times in BCSD but has been at the Berkeley Elementary for “many years.”
She said the work schedule was great for her when her children were small, but another reason for becoming a special education teacher was that her sister has special needs.
“I saw that there was a need,” Heatley said.
Heatley studied early childhood education at Trident. She has previously been elected Assistant if the Year during her taeching career.
Biletzskov said their students have a wide range of different disabilities, so the teachers are big on celebrating progress.
“What seems little to people on the outside is huge to students in this classroom,” she said.
For example, they have one student who does not want to walk – she can walk, but has been carried a lot. Biletzskov said this student is starting to walk more.
They have some non-verbal students too, and hearing such a student make a sound can be an emotional time.
“It makes you want to cry because you worked so hard, and you probably worked that entire year just trying to say a…sound, and when they finally get it, it’s a huge deal for us,” Biletzskov said.
Biletzskov said while there is the common misconception with their classroom that the teachers are just “babysitting,” their school is big on trying to show other schools and teachers that this class is just as important as the other classes.
Students start in the class at the age of 3. They spend about two or three years in the class. Many of them have never been away from their parents because maybe their disability has not allowed them to go into a daycare yet, so Berkeley Elementary is their first-ever school setting.
“So we’re teaching a lot of basics,” Biletzskov said.
While Biletzskov and Heatley teach the class, there are also speech, occupational and physical therapists who come in to work with students.
The class is very goal-oriented. The students have an IEP and a lot of their goals center on becoming more independent. Toilet training, learning to follow routines, speaking – all of these are part of what the teachers work on with the students.
Biletzskov’s goal for her students once they leave the classroom, if they were to ever get lost, would be for them to either find their way back home on their own, or be able to tell someone their name/address/family member’s name so they can get home safely.
“We have a lot of kids that are more severe that may not ever get to that point, but I want them to be able to communicate in some way,” she said.
The teachers work very closely with the students’ parents as well to help them at home – particularly if something is working for the child at school then the parents should be able to use it at home for whatever behavior issue they are dealing with.
“The discipline is not their disability,” Heatley said. “They still need discipline and structure – and you actually add another disabilitiy by not giving them (discipline and structure).”
Biletzskov said once parents apply the advice the teachers give to them, they become very appreciative.
“Once they do accept it and know that we’re here…and we want to help their child, they’re definitely on board with us,” she said.
Biletzskov and Heatley work really well together; Biletzskov takes credit for being the more “stern” and strict teacher, while students will go to Heatley for cuddles.
“Ms. Heatley is a great assistant, and we bounce off of each other,” Biletzskov said.
Heatley said they love their students.
“They feel safe with us,” she said. “We still have kids stop by here that are in regular education to say ‘hello’.”
Biletzskov's advice for other special education teachers is be prepared to be in it "125 percent" – but it is important for teachers to take time for themselves when they go home.
“Whatever you can’t fix that day, don’t take it home with you,” she said. “Come back the next day and just try it again.”
Heatley encouraged communication for teachers working with a partner.
“Just communicate so you can work together as a team,” she said.
Biletzskov has been married for almost seven years. She has a 3-year-old son and is eight months pregnant with a baby girl at the time of this interview.
Heatley has been married 39 years and has three adult children – two daughters and a son.
Principal Kelly Gabriel said the work this teaching duo does is “phenomenal.”
“They’re so integral into getting these kids to be able to get into regular education classrooms,” she said. “Without that early intervention, they may never get to a regular education classroom.
“It’s needed,” she added. “It’s not the program, it’s who you have in the classroom.”