DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. - Dorchester School District Two is gearing up for future growth as the school year comes to a close. With projections indicating a potential enrollment increase of 16,000 new students within the next decade, the district is faced with the challenge of accommodating this significant surge.
Dr. Shane Robbins, Superintendent of Dorchester School District Two, highlighted the projected growth and the need to plan strategically to address the increasing student population. "When Ashley Ridge High School opened, I think it opened with about 800 students," Robbins stated. "Today, they have about 27, 28-hundred students, with that number growing every single day. That's why we look at the rezoning options for us to make sure that we're filling all of our buildings before we try to come to the community for tax dollars to build a new facility."
The majority of the growth is expected to occur in the Beech Hill and Summers Corner areas, with an estimated 17,000 homes planned to be constructed across Dorchester County. While the exact timeline for the completion of these developments remains uncertain, Robbins emphasized the rapid nature of the construction process, with homes being built in approximately 120 days and subsequently occupied by families with school-age children.
Current projections from the district indicate that, without the construction of new schools, over 3,000 students would be zoned for Sand Hill Elementary School alone. In response to this anticipated demand, Robbins estimated that the district may need to construct up to six new elementary schools, one or two new middle schools, and a new high school.
To ensure effective long-term planning, Dr. Robbins expressed his interest in holding a long-range planning session with Dorchester County this summer. Kiera Reinertsen, the Director of Planning and Zoning for Dorchester County, welcomed the district's involvement in the comprehensive planning process. "We'd love to engage with them on that," Reinertsen said. "We're actively working on our comprehensive plan right now, seeking feedback from the community and school district on growth issues, concerns, and needs."
In the interim, the district plans to address current overcrowding issues by implementing temporary mobile classrooms and exploring the possibility of shifting attendance lines for certain schools.
While discussing potential changes to attendance lines, Robbins assured parents that adjustments would be made thoughtfully and with consideration for the well-being of students. The district will prioritize filling existing facilities before seeking additional funding from the community for the construction of new schools.
As Dorchester School District Two prepares for significant growth, it remains committed to providing quality education to its students while engaging in collaborative planning with the county to address the evolving needs of the community.