Attendance zone approved for Carolyn Lewis School expected to have little impact on ‘exponential growth’
Published Wednesday, October 12, 2022
The Berkeley County Board of Education unanimously approved an attendance zone for the Carolyn Lewis School at the Tuesday, October 11 meeting.
Carolyn Lewis School is a K-8 school under construction in the Carnes Crossroads area and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023. The hope, when BCSD administrators and board members began planning the school, was that it would have an impact on not just the Carnes Crossroads neighborhood, but also the rapidly-growing Nexton and Cane Bay areas.
Conversation amongst board members prior to the vote centered heavily on that impact being minimal and how new schools would be needed.
The approved zone will drop utilization at Cane Bay Elementary from 131 percent to 128 percent with growth in the area forecast to bring the school up to 135 percent by 2025. The impact on Nexton Elementary is arguably the largest of all eight impacted schools. Utilization at Nexton Elementary is currently at 98 percent and is expected to drop to 85 percent when the new school opens. Without other interventions, the school would be back at nearly 100 percent utilization by 2025.
District 7 Representative Kelly Marone lives in Cane Bay and represents the neighborhood and surrounding areas. She and other board members spoke passionately about attendance line decisions and the impact such decisions have on community members. She argued that more should soon be done.
“Either way, we are going to be in that Cane Bay scenario if we don’t build more schools,” Marone said.
District 6 Representative Sally Wofford said another school in the Nexton or Cane Bay area “has to be what we do next.”
“I do know that when we voted as a board to put the penny on the ballot in November, that is one of the schools that is on the list,” she said.
In addition to Nexton and Cane Bay, the new attendance zone impacts Devon Forest Elementary, Sangaree Elementary, Sangaree Intermediate, Cane Bay Middle, College Park Middle and Sangaree Middle. There are no changes to existing high school boundaries.
Within two years of opening, Carolyn Lewis School is forecast to reach numbers just below instructional capacity. While aforementioned large growth is expected in Cane Bay and Nexton, there is also a forecast of minor growth impacting Sangaree Middle and Sangaree Intermediate.
“Mrs. Wofford is absolutely correct,” said Board Chairman David Barrow. “We have to build new schools. The board voted unanimously to put the penny on the ballot, and all we can do is present facts. But, the fact is that the growth is exponential, and we have got to give our citizens an option in order for them to decide what’s best to fund these schools.”
The approved attendance zone changes will not take effect until 2023 when Carolyn Lewis School opens.