Few purchases give you a sense of pride and accomplishment like buying a new home. From white picket fences and lush green grass to cookouts with neighbors and holidays with the family, owning a home is magical. Like most great things, though, enduring the home-buying process takes a lot of work. There are many steps to take and difficult decisions to make along the way. One of the most crucial decisions is what type of home loan and mortgage broker to choose. Whether it's your first time buying a home or you're a seasoned owner with multiple properties, you will need a trusted mortgage broker in Knightsville, SC, with your best interests at heart.
If you're like most people, you need a mortgage professional whose top priority is their customers - an expert who can provide accurate advice and guidance so you can make educated decisions. That's where Mija Mortgage comes into the picture.
Whether you want the best interest rates or don't know where to start in the home-buying process, Mija Mortgage can set you up in the right direction. From getting you pre-qualified to buy a home to securing a veteran's loan, Mija Mortgage is the trusted solution you need. As Knightsville natives, we're proud to serve the Lowcountry and all of South Carolina with trusted mortgage brokerage services.
Unlike some mortgage companies in Knightsville, SC, we bring years of high-level experience and insight to the table. Having worked with hundreds of clients during our time in business, we know you're probably going through a range of emotions right now. Buying a new home can be a scary process, especially for first-time buyers. That's why we make every effort to make ourselves accessible and available for clients. Our primary goal is to help you make the right mortgage for your family and your budget.
We know that many home loan officers have horrible reputations. Some brokers only see their clients as transactions, and a means to make quick money. They come off as impatient and pushy, failing to understand that this is a very big decision for you. At Mija Mortgage, we take the opposite approach. We encourage our clients to take as much time as needed to ask us questions and review mortgage documents. We could say that our mission is to exceed your expectations, but we'd rather just show you. From assistance finding FHA, VA, or other loans to refinancing your current mortgage, Mija is the team you can trust.
Here are just a few reasons why home buyers choose Mija Mortgage:
Most people simply don't have access to the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to purchase a home with cash. Instead, they take out a mortgage loan to buy a home. Unfortunately, many homebuyers are anxious to get the ball rolling and, due to their excitement, fail to shop around for the best mortgage rates. To some degree, avoiding this step makes sense, as it requires a lot of legwork and research to get the job done. For those not wanting to spend hours researching a reasonable mortgage, there's an alternative to consider - working with a mortgage broker.
To understand the benefits of working with a mortgage broker, you must first understand their role in the home-buying process.
Your mortgage broker is a third party that works to connect you with mortgage lenders. Essentially, a mortgage broker works as an intermediary between a person who wants to buy a home and the entities offering loans to buy a home. The mortgage broker works with both the borrower and lender to get the borrower approved. They also verify and collect paperwork from the borrower that the lender needs to finish a home purchase. Typically, mortgage brokers have relationships with several home loan lenders. Mija Mortgage, for example, has access to 50 different lenders, which gives us a wide range of home loans in Knightsville, SC, from which to choose.
In addition to finding a home loan lender, your mortgage broker will help you settle on the best loan options and interest rates for your budget. Ideally, your mortgage broker will take a great deal of stress and legwork off your plate while also potentially saving you money.
If you're ready to buy a home, getting pre-qualified is a great choice that will streamline the entire process. Your mortgage broker makes getting pre-approved easy by obtaining all the documents needed to get you pre-qualified. In taking a look at your application, they will determine if you're ready for the pre-approval process. If your application needs additional items, the mortgage company will help point you in the right direction to ensure your application is as strong as it can be. Your mortgage broker will also walk you through the different types of loans, from Conventional and FHA to VA and USDA.
In order to be pre-approved for a home in South Carolina, you must have the following:
Most people choose to use a mortgage broker because they have access to different lenders and interest rates. But a great mortgage broker brings more to the table than a choice of lenders.
Save You from Unneeded Stress:One of the biggest advantages of hiring a mortgage broker is that they can find and vet loans while managing the mortgage process on your behalf. The best mortgage companies, like Mija Mortgage, hire brokers who are experts at keeping underwriting on track, coordinating with relevant parties, and handling all paperwork involved. At the end of the day, mortgage brokers save you stress and time and often expedite the closing process.
More Access: We touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating: A mortgage broker provides access to a range of loans, rates, and lenders. In fact, many mortgage brokers can get rates lower than what the average person could get from a lender.
Save You Money: There's a chance that your mortgage broker can get your mortgage fees reduced or waived by the lender, which could save you a good deal of money.
Help with Unfavorable Financial Situations: Expert mortgage brokers can often assist in challenging financial situations, like when a buyer has inconsistent income or less-than-perfect credit. Experienced brokers, like those at Mija Mortgage, are often aware of lenders willing to will work with nontraditional borrowers.
Provide Key Insights: Mortgage brokers share important insights, such as your chances for a home loan approval and exactly how much house you can afford. They can also save you from making costly mistakes based on their years of expertise in the mortgage industry.
While settling on the best type of home loan isn't as exciting as searching for the home of your dreams, it's equally important. Yes, your Mija Mortgage loan officer in Knightsville, SC, will be happy to help explain the differences between home loans. But understanding the basics ahead of time will save you stress and time in the long run.
Conventional loans can be used to purchase a new home or refinance your current one. Conventional loans include fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages. Generally, borrowers must put down a 3% down payment for owner-occupants, 10% for a vacation property, and 20% for an investment home. If you are able to pay 20% of the total cost of the home, you can avoid private mortgage insurance, which is otherwise required. Conventional mortgages are often preferred by buyers with good credit or people needing a non-owner-occupied mortgage.
FHA mortgages are issued by the U.S. government and backed by the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). This loan is often preferred by first-time homebuyers because it only requires a 3.5% down payment and offers more flexibility with credit requirements and underwriting standards. FHA loans have several requirements you must meet to qualify. Contact Mija Mortgage today to learn more about FHA loans and whether or not they're best for your financial situation.
Also backed by the government, these loans are insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and don't require money down. These loans have lower insurance requirements when compared to FHA loans, offer 100% financing if you qualify, and allow for closing costs to be covered by the seller. In order to qualify for a USDA loan, you must live in a rural area, and your household income must meet certain standards. These loans are often preferred by low-income citizens who live in rural parts of South Carolina.
Also known as VA or Veteran's Affairs loans, these mortgages are reserved for the brave men and women who served in the military. VA loans help provide our military members, veterans, and their families with favorable loan terms and an easy home ownership experience. Often, those who qualify are not required to make a down payment on their home. Additionally, these loans often include less expensive closing costs.
If you are a veteran or the family member of a veteran, contact Mija Mortgage today to speak with our Vetted VA Professional, Debbie Haberny. Debbie helps our military members, veterans, and their family members obtain home loans utilizing veteran benefits and would be happy to help as you search for a home.
Do you have questions about the complexities of mortgages and home loans? As your advocate, Mija Mortgage is here to answer any questions you have about mortgages and the home-buying process. We encourage you to call our office to speak directly with one of our mortgage experts or continue reading below for answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q. I was talking to my spouse about mortgage brokers, and they mentioned the phrase home loan originator. What's the difference between a broker and a loan originator?
A. The mortgage industry is full of confusing jobs and titles, making it easy to confuse roles and responsibilities. Such is the case with mortgage brokers and home loan originators. Though their roles share similarities, a home loan originator in Knightsville, SC, works for a bank or credit union, while a mortgage broker works for a brokerage company. Home loan originators and mortgage brokers are both licensed by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).
Q. I've heard from everyone that you must have mortgage insurance to buy a home. What is mortgage insurance?
A. Essentially, mortgage insurance helps protect lenders if a borrower forecloses on the home they bought. One advantage of mortgage insurance is that when borrowers pay it, lenders can often grant loans to buyers when they might not have otherwise. Though not always required to buy a home, mortgage insurance is often needed for down payments of less than 20%.
Q. I have just been pre-approved to buy a beautiful home in South Carolina. Is there anything I shouldn't do now that I'm pre-qualified?
A. Mortgage companies like Mija Mortgage, make getting pre-qualified for a home easy. However, as your loan process continues, your lender is required to run a new credit report before closing on a home. For that reason, it's to avoid any activity that might affect your credit score, such as:
Q. My brother-in-law recently refinanced his home in South Carolina. What is refinancing, and should I consider refinancing my home too?
A. Refinancing your home basically means you're swapping your current mortgage for a new one, most often with a lower interest rate. If you would like to reduce the term of your loan, lower your monthly mortgage payments, or consolidate debt, refinancing may be a smart option. Many homeowners also choose to refinance if they want to switch from adjustable-rate mortgages to fixed-rate mortgages or to get cash back for home renovations. To learn whether refinancing is a viable option for your situation, contact Mija Mortgage ASAP, as loan rates change frequently.
Here at Mija Mortgage, we believe that the best communities begin with the dream of home ownership. Our mission is to make those dreams come true, with personalized service, expert guidance, and good old-fashioned hard work. As one of the most trusted mortgage companies in Knightsville, SC, we have years of experience working with a diverse range of clients, from first-time buyers and investors to self-employed borrowers and non-native English speakers.
Though every mortgage situation is different, one thing never changes: our commitment to clients. Contact our office today to get started on an exceptional home-buying experience.
It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.As word spread th...
It’s the end of an era for roller skaters. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good Sunday night. A rink employee confirmed Monday that the skating facility has permanently closed.
Last Thursday, at the rink’s final adult night, skaters zipped along, displaying skills that spanned from spinning and dancing on wheels backwards to apprehensive first-timers feeling it out. A disco ball spun along with the tunes that weren’t necessarily child-appropriate.
As word spread the rink would close permanently, skaters unabashedly filmed one another to document their joy and camaraderie as they zoomed around in circles grooving to the beat.
The closing of Music in Motion is a major cultural loss for the area, many say, especially since the only other rinks in the area, Hot Wheels Skate Center and Stardust Skate Center, closed in 2014.
Summerville native Demont Teneil said he has skated at Music in Motion for 14 years. For him, roller skating is therapy to help navigate career and relationships changes.
“I needed something that no one could take from me — and it was skating,” Teneil said. “It’s been my outlet. I just kept going and just kept trying new tricks and it rolled me out of depression.”
Teneil said he heard from his fellow skaters that Music in Motion, which opened in 2001, would not be a roller rink much longer.
“I’m sad that it’s been sold but it will definitely still always be a part of me, because I’ve learned so many of my tricks at the skating rink,” Teneil said. He plans to start traveling to Savannah, Ga., and Columbia to rink skate, and will hit the outdoor skate areas, such The Bridge Spot off of Poinsett Street in downtown Charleston.
The dynamic of teaching and learning is a big part of the roller skating experience at Music in Motion, others said.
“Everybody’s really nice and supportive,” said Nick Velez, who’s been skating regularly at Music in Motion since February. He has roller skated for about 16 years and used to be an instructor in Southern California before he moved to Goose Creek.
“Everybody’s really cool and down to help out,” he said. “If you’re struggling, don’t fear. They’ll help you up. If you have any questions, if you want to learn something, they’re more than happy to show you how to do it. If you’re trying to pop off and be yourself, they’re all about it.”
Shmeika Hall from Goose Creek said she worked at Music in Motion for almost a year before she left her position as a rink floor guard last June.
“Working here was important to me because I was able to teach people how to skate,” she said. “I was able to interact and make skating friends. When I first started skating here, maybe five years ago, it was a very small crowd of adults, but over time it has grown. [The rink] was like a safe place for adults to come and have fun, and I don’t know how we’re going to do that now.”
A few months ago, Auburn Fiore, who lives in Knightsville, visited Music in Motion for the first time in 10 years. As a child, she said she visited frequently.
“When I came here for adult skate night, I realized how joyous and amazing the community is here,” Fiore said. “While we’re here, we’re all one big community that loves to come together, dance and have a great time. I’m definitely scared of losing a place for us all to gather and bond over roller skating.”
Roller skating is just as much about congregating as a group as it is the privilege to have a space to skate, she said. Outdoor roller skating isn’t an ideal option for beginner skaters, she added, because of uneven concrete, blistering heat and rules that prohibit skating at sports courts around the area.
“It’s definitely devastating,” Fiore said. “Now all the people that have bonded over this super-interesting talent and hobby, there’s nowhere for us to congregate.”
While the future of roller skating in the area is unclear, one option exists for women skaters: Lowcountry Highrollers Derby, a local women’s roller derby team. It’s offering a meet-and-greet Thursday.
Highrollers president Traci Doutaz of Ladson remembers going to Music in Motion often between 2015 and 2017 after Hot Wheels Skate Center closed.
“For beginners, it’s super important to have a roller rink to learn not only because the floor is amazing, but [it] also has skates to borrow,” she said. “Roller skating is not the easiest hobby to just pick up and not having a local roller rink and its community just takes that option away for a lot of people.”
Doutaz joined Highrollers in 2010, and she said it was popular up until about 2015 when the group lost its bouting venue at The Citadel. Then Covid-19 hit and roller skating blew up, Doutaz said, so there was renewed interest in Highrollers. After more than a year of searching, North Charleston Coliseum offered the group a space to practice and hold bouts currently. The closest roller derby club for men is in Columbia, she said.
Doutaz has been roller skating for almost 30 years. She worked her first job as a carhop on skates at a Sonic in Kentucky.
“Emotionally it’s my escape,” she said. “It’s how I deal with things. It’s my happy place. I’m more comfortable with wheels on my feet than anything else.”
The Highrollers group offers a haven for women skaters who need to be shown the ropes.
“We will teach you everything: how to skate and how to fall,” Doutaz said. “You can show up even if you have never put skates on before.”
Lowcountry Highrollers Derby is hosting a meet-and-greet 6-9 p.m. Aug. 25 at Rusty Bull in North Charleston.
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Dorchester County is continuing with its plans for a large-scale rezoning effort to stop the over-building of additional apartment complexes and townhomes.At a County Council meeting Monday, members voted and approved the rezoning of dozens of parcels of land from multi-family residential to mostly single-family. Under single-family zoning, property owners aren’t allowed to build apartments or townhomes.Knightsville LLC is a property owner with plans for building townhomes that was exempt from the rezoning ordinance after...
Dorchester County is continuing with its plans for a large-scale rezoning effort to stop the over-building of additional apartment complexes and townhomes.
At a County Council meeting Monday, members voted and approved the rezoning of dozens of parcels of land from multi-family residential to mostly single-family. Under single-family zoning, property owners aren’t allowed to build apartments or townhomes.
Knightsville LLC is a property owner with plans for building townhomes that was exempt from the rezoning ordinance after filing a complaint in county court. County officials say there have also been some additional complaints from residents about the rezoning.
“The complaint from Knightsville LLC held more significance because of the level of investment involved,” said Kiera Reinertsen, the county planning and zoning director.
In 2004, the county’s zoning ordinance was amended and led to an increase in approvals of multi-family zoning.
After hearing complaints about traffic, infrastructure and flooding during the organizing of its 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the county announced mass rezoning plans for multi-family spaces.
According to officials, most of the property owners under the rezoning project already live within single-family spaces. The project will help bring property owners who have spaces for commercial use into compliance. Using a property for commercial use is not permitted in a single-family residential district.
The project will also help balance population densities and available county infrastructure.
Some of the multi-family areas highlighted for rezoning include property southeast of Ladson Road toward North Charleston and between Ladson Road and Central Avenue in Knightsville.
In April, Knightsville LLC filed a complaint in the county court over proposed rezoning. The owner had purchased three parcels of land off of Central Avenue in Knightsville with the goal of building townhomes.
In the complaint, the owner alleged that the rezoning plans undermined and violated their investment-backed expectations and denied them the right to pursue a planned development project.
During the Monday meeting, attorney Ellis Lesemann spoke on behalf of Knightsville LLC. He said they paid just under $1.1 million for the land in 2019. He also argued that there is enough infrastructure in place to develop the project.
“They’ve been incurring permit fees, legal fees, engineering, doing a wetlands delineation and going through other types of carrying costs to bring that project forward,” he said.
Lesemann said his client learned about the rezoning plans for their property in February. After a Monday executive session, the council agreed to exclude property under Knightsville LLC from its rezoning ordinance.
“We were pleased to be able to resolve the matter with the county,” Lesemann said.
Future approval of multi-family zoning will be based on the county’s available infrastructure and future land use.
The area above Central Avenue in Knightsville is next on the county’s list of mass rezoning. The county’s planning commission is scheduled to meet on Oct. 8 to review proposed rezonings.
A County Council public hearing is expected to follow on a later date. Officials say property owners impacted by the rezoning should’ve already been notified.
Many owners have likely received a flier on their property notifying them about the rezoning.
By Casey L. Taylor, JDTucked away near Summerville, SC – the place known as “Flowertown, USA” – is a sanctuary dedicated to gibbons (small apes). It’s a jungle-like wonderland that has lifesaving at the core of its mission.The International Primate Protection League (IPPL) sanctuary is a secret to many locals. It is situated on over 40 acres of land surrounded by lush woods. Neighbors are lucky enough to hear the songs and great calls of these interesting primates throughout the da...
By Casey L. Taylor, JD
Tucked away near Summerville, SC – the place known as “Flowertown, USA” – is a sanctuary dedicated to gibbons (small apes). It’s a jungle-like wonderland that has lifesaving at the core of its mission.
The International Primate Protection League (IPPL) sanctuary is a secret to many locals. It is situated on over 40 acres of land surrounded by lush woods. Neighbors are lucky enough to hear the songs and great calls of these interesting primates throughout the day and night.
The sanctuary is home to 36 gibbons, the smallest of the apes, who have been rescued or retired from laboratories, deplorable “roadside” attractions, or the pet trade. IPPL provides lifetime care to these incredible endangered species and works to educate the community on the plight of gibbons in the wild.
The gibbon residents at the sanctuary have indoor night houses that are hurricane-grade, expansive outdoor habitats, and aerial walkways that give them the choice to safely move about their designated areas as they wish. It is important to the organization that each sanctuary resident is given as much freedom of choice as possible in a captive environment, while keeping them safe. Despite most residents having a rough start to their lives, they thrive at IPPL. They even have some residents nearing the age of 60!
IPPL is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the world’s remaining primates, great and small. For the last 45 years, IPPL has made a global impact by securing an export ban on primates from Thailand (saving thousands and thousands of lives) and working with over 20 reputable primate rescue and rehabilitation centers in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.
IPPL not only supports their efforts to care for native primates who have been rescued and are in need of rehabilitation or lifetime care, but also to thwart poachers and illegal wildlife traffickers, as well as educate local villages and communities on how they can help be part of the solution in preserving native populations of primates.
Small Team, Big Impact
With a small but mighty team of animal caregivers, maintenance technicians, office staff, and dog nannies, IPPL provides compassionate lifetime care for every resident, which includes nutritious and delicious fresh produce three times a day for the gibbons, as well as veterinary care and enrichment — to stimulate those intelligent minds of theirs!
Forms of enrichment vary from food puzzles that the gibbon must figure out in order to get their healthy treats, to special time with their favorite caregiver. Bubble-blowing is a big hit with some of the gibbons. Tong, who was one of the first four original residents at the sanctuary, loves a good foot rub — what girl doesn’t?
Absolutely nothing beats a life in the wild, but for these residents that is sadly not a reality. The team at IPPL feels that the least they can do is make the rest of these individuals’ lives the happiest and healthiest they can be. From residents used in invasive human vaccination studies and locomotion tests, to those kept in less-than-favorable conditions, IPPL’s sanctuary is a safe and loving place for them to thrive and to live as gibbons should.
Casey L. Taylor, JD is the Executive Director of IPPL.
MORE ABOUT IPPL
The sanctuary is not open to the public as an attraction, but it holds educational events in the community and offers options to visit during special times. Sign up to receive their e-newsletters on their website (www.ippl.org) and be the first to know about opportunities and events.
The droves of people moving to the Lowcountry for the low cost of living and plentiful jobs aren’t coming alone.Often those workers have families that include young children who will attend public schools. Of the more than 750,000 people who live in the region, about 22 percent are age 18 or younger, according to the Census Bureau.That growth leaves school systems struggling to keep up as they strive to find funding, space and dozens of teachers to instruct those new students each year.“Right now, we are tryi...
The droves of people moving to the Lowcountry for the low cost of living and plentiful jobs aren’t coming alone.
Often those workers have families that include young children who will attend public schools. Of the more than 750,000 people who live in the region, about 22 percent are age 18 or younger, according to the Census Bureau.
That growth leaves school systems struggling to keep up as they strive to find funding, space and dozens of teachers to instruct those new students each year.
“Right now, we are trying to basically take inventory of what we have, and trying to find different ways to deal with the growth,” said Berkeley County Senior Associate Superintendent Deon Jackson.
In many cases, districts’ annual growth is enough to fill a new school.
This year, for instance, Berkeley planned for 800 new students, but 1,400 came.
“And Volvo hasn’t moved the first car off of their plant yet,” Jackson said of the carmaker that plans to bring 4,000 new jobs to the county and will roll out its first S60 sedan later this year. “At this rate, there is no doubt in our minds that yes, we are going to need additional schools at some point.”
Dorchester, on the other hand, got an unexpected break this year. After more than a decade of 400 to 1,000 additional students per year, only 149 new students enrolled in that district this year. Officials had planned for 600.
Predictably, the schools near new development are the most overcrowded.
Cane Bay elementary and middle schools near bustling Carnes Crossroads are currently under the biggest strain in Berkeley, and the Philip Simmons schools off Clements Ferry Road are expected to feel a pinch in coming years.
Dorchester 2’s crush is in the Knightsville area on the district’s northeast side, where Reeves Elementary and DuBose Middle share a campus.
“We have a lot of development coming that could impact those schools,” said Dorchester 2 Chief Financial Officer Allyson Duke.
Lack of funding
But those new houses don’t contribute to school districts’ operating budgets.
State law, Act 388, limits the kind of taxes a school district can levy, including a prohibition on taxing homeowner-occupied residential properties for operating expenses.
“They build all these houses, but we don’t benefit from the property taxes from them,” Duke said.
Property tax bills reflect an amount for the school operating budget that is then deducted as a credit.
“There’s still confusion,” Duke said. “A lot of people do not realize that they’re not paying school operating taxes. They see it on their tax bill and don’t look and see that school tax credit at the bottom.”
Funding for capital needs like new buildings or maintaining existing ones has to come from somewhere else, often special obligation bonds.
“What we are trying to do is make sure that we’re utilizing everything that we have to the fullest extent before we start building additional schools,” Jackson said.
Charleston County, which is also growing by about 1,000 students annually, funds its building program through a 1 percent sales tax. The district expects to collect $575 million to fund new school buildings and renovations through the tax, first approved in 2010 and renewed in 2014.
But Berkeley and Dorchester 2 have both turned to homeowners. In 2012, those districts floated “Yes 4 Schools” campaigns with an eye toward easing some of the overcrowding that existed then.
At the time, they said several schools housed hundreds more students than they could comfortably hold and students were being taught in trailers, work rooms and libraries.
Seventy percent of voters in Berkeley approved the ballot measure to fund a $198 million building program that added four new elementary schools and a high school, while Dorchester 2’s $179.9 million campaign to add three elementary schools and a magnet middle school of the arts passed by a 60-40 margin.
The measures added $102 on a $150,000 owner-occupied house in Dorchester County for 20 years. In Berkeley, homeowners paid $60 more on a $150,000 house the first three years, and are now paying $120 annually until 2023, when it goes back to $60 for another decade.
“The referendum was definitely a success,” Duke said. “If we didn’t have these new schools, I don’t know what we would have done.”
End of Yes 4 Schools
Both Berkeley and Dorchester 2 will see the end of their building campaigns this year. In August, Berkeley plans to open Bowens Corner and Foxbank elementary schools, and Dorchester 2 students will move into the new Rollings Middle School of the Arts.
The extra seats have helped some but not enough, officials said.
“We need more schools, that’s all there is to it,” said Duke.
In the 5½ years since the referendums were approved, Berkeley has grown by about 5,000 students to 35,192 this year. Dorchester has gone from 23,245 to 26,240.
“We’ve completed that building program, and the growth is still coming,” Jackson said. “We’ve made our adjustments; however, it’s still not sufficient. When you have a 900-student school opening up at 750 students, it doesn’t leave you much room, not the way that Berkeley County is growing.”
The county is outpacing even the aggressive predictions of a 2015 study by Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute that forecast the student population could skyrocket to 55,000 by 2035. That study called for 20 new schools in 20 years.
But aware that taxpayers are still putting money into the 2012 program, officials are doing everything they can to maximize space.
“We are not so certain that a referendum is the only solution,” Jackson said. “We’re working with the county government and working with our Legislature to figure out what’s the best way for Berkeley County to deal with the situation we have.”
The trailers the districts removed from schools a few years ago are now being added back. At DuBose, for instance, six additional units will be added to the 18 already there for next school year.
Dorchester is not yet talking about redrawing attendance lines — always a hot topic — but Berkeley is.
“Where do you move them? To a less overcrowded school?” said District 2 spokeswoman Pat Raynor.
Officials at both districts said they have a commitment not to increase class size, which can be a detriment to learning for students and a stress for teachers.
“Talk to just about any teacher, and they would rather have lower class sizes,” Duke said. “That’s probably more important to most of them than pay, really.”
Berkeley is looking at some unconventional ways to increase capacity, such as using a “college model” of office space or shared spaces in jam-packed high schools instead of assigning teachers to classrooms. That allows each class to be used every class period, in theory increasing capacity by 25 percent.
“We’re trying to use every resource that we have to the fullest before doing something that’s going to cause us to borrow more money,” Jackson said.
Although they aren’t ruling out future referendums, both are aware that they may not get taxpayer support.
“We’re taking a collaborative approach because we are coming out of a building program that drew a lot of attention,” Jackson said. “We are definitely cognizant of that.”
Opposition to Berkeley’s referendum led to a State Law Enforcement Division investigation and guilty pleas on ethics charges from former Superintendent Rodney Thompson and Communcations Director Amy Kovach.
In addition, in the aftermath of the investigation, authorities uncovered a scheme by former Chief Financial Officer Brantley Thomas to embezzle nearly $1 million from the district and shuffle money between accounts to cover up construction cost overruns of about $7.2 million.
Dorchester 2 was also sued over its referendum. In March 2017, Summerville lawyer Mike Rose filed a lawsuit claiming that the district broke state law and its own rules during the building campaign, leading to cost overruns, delays in opening new schools and shoddy work. That lawsuit is ongoing.
First Day of School is August 15, 2016.Alston Bailey Elementary Alston Middle ...
First Day of School is August 15, 2016.
|Alston Bailey Elementary Alston Middle Ashley Ridge High Beech Hill Elementary Dr. Eugene Sires ElementaryDubose MiddleEagle Nest ElementaryFlowertown ElementaryFort Dorchester ElementaryFort Dorchester HighGivhans SchoolGregg MiddleKnightsville ElementaryNewington Elementary||Oakbrook MiddleOakbrook ElementaryPye ElementaryRiver Oaks MiddleRollings Middle School of the ArtsSand Hill ElementarySpann ElementarySummer ProgramsSummerville ElementarySummerville HighWindsor Hill Arts Infused ElementaryWm. Reeves Elementary|
|Alston MiddleAshley Ridge HighBeech Hill ElementaryDr. Eugene Sires ElementaryDubose MiddleEagle Nest ElementaryFlowertown ElementaryFort Dorchester ElementaryKnightsville Elementary||Oakbrook MiddlePye ElementaryRiver Oaks MiddleRollings Middle School of the ArtsSand Hill ElementarySpann ElementarySummerville ElementaryWindsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary|
Joseph Pye has worked for Dorchester District 2 for more than 40 years.
In 2012, Pye was awarded “2012 Superintendent of the Year” by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.
Learn more about Dorchester School District 2 by visiting its website at http://www.ddtwo.org/.