'We know where we're going'
As the 2019-2020 school year kicks off, the community can count on the Berkeley County School Board to continue to put students first, according to district officials. That means attracting and retaining quality teachers, focusing on quality education, and preparing to sustain this focus amid exponential growth in the area. “The board is comfortable with where we are today, and we know where we are going,” explains District 8 representative Frank Wright. “We have to continue to build on our strong foundation.” Just this past year, the board’s accomplishments included increasing teacher pay, reducing second-grade class size through teacher additions, and bolstering special education resources, all of which are intended to improve education quality and staff retention moving forward. Given the population growth in the area, sustaining this strong foundation rooted in education quality will be a challenge. As noted by Wright, the county has experienced significant growth over the past five years, and that growth is expected to continue. This means the board will be faced with beginning to look at high-growth areas, like Clements Ferry Road, that could one day need new elementary and middle schools and how to raise money to fund them and renovate others. “People want to live where schools are performing well, so education quality is key,” notes Wright. “We have listened and hope to continue to do positive things that will impact student success now and into the next century.” Although graduation season is a long way off, the board is already anticipating the excitement of seeing Philip Simmons High School hold its first graduation in 2020. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, Philip Simmons will have a full, four-year curriculum. “Commencements bring communities together, and this event will be something we can all celebrate,” says Wright. District 8, represented by Wright, includes Berkeley Alternative, Berkeley Middle College High, Berkeley Elementary, Berkeley High, Berkeley Intermediate, Berkeley Middle, Boulder Bluff Elementary, Cainhoy Elementary, H.E. Bonner Elementary, Hanahan High, Howe Hall AIMS, Macedonia Middle, Marrington Middle School of the Arts, Philip Simmons Elementary, Philip Simmons Middle, Philip Simmons High, St. Stephen Elementary, St. Stephen Middle, Timberland High, and Whitesville Elementary District 2, represented by Mac McQuillin, includes Berkeley Alternative, Berkeley Middle College High, Cainhoy Elementary, Daniel Island School, Goose Creek High, Goose Creek Primary, Hanahan Elementary, Hanahan High, Hanahan Middle, Howe Hall AIMS, Marrington Elementary, Marrington Middle of the Arts, Philip Simmons Elementary, Philip Simmons Middle, Philip Simmons High, Sedgefield Intermediate, and Sedgefield Middle. The Daniel Island News reached out to McQuillin to include his insights in this article, but the paper was unable to connect with him prior to going to print. To learn more about board goals for the 2019-2020 school year, their meeting schedule, and how to contact your representative, visit the Berkeley County School District website at https://www.bcsdschools.net/domain/5286.