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James Island residents concerned about school bus lot plans

James Island residents concerned about school bus lot plans

It’s been a debate on James Island for more than a year now. Where will Charleston County School District place the new bus lot for District Three?

Right now, the buses are being housed at the old Fort Johnson Middle School. Back in June 26, 2017, the school board voted to put the new lot at Gresham Meggett -- a historically black school now being used for community activities. The district says that they can no longer build the lot there due to zoning issues.

Monday night, community members were presented two other options and given an opportunity to express their concerns.

Reginald McNeil, Executive Director of Capital Programs for the district said they’re not left with many options. “We always have to consider the budget, right now the budget is approved for $3.3M over at the James Island Elementary School where we were going to build it. That’s still the budget we’re operating under, if we choose to take it to a different site, it may increase our cost significantly.”

Construction is set to begin at the old Fort Johnson Middle School soon for the new Camp Road Middle School. McNeil said, eliminating the option for the buses to stay there. “Construction at this school starts at the end of the spring, or early summer, so it should be around June 2018.”

McNeil told the room that the two options on the table are now James Island Elementary School and Camp Road Middle School. This would be a permanent change that would eliminate outdoor space that students use for recess and recreational purposes.

Clarissa Sawyer, a parent who’s lived on James Island for 25 years said, “Nowhere in the plan did it include a five-acre bus lot. I do not think the community of James Island would have agreed and bought into a plan of combining two middle schools had that been in the original plan.”

Parents and neighbors also expressed their concerns for a bus lot being placed in what they say is their backyard. Reverend Branden Sweeper said he came to the meeting on behalf of parents in his congregation. “From one acre going to five and a half acres, you know that noise is going to increase, that’s going to be a greater concern, greater headache, greater problem and the people on James Island don’t need that kind of problems, they really don’t.”

McNeil said board members will ultimately decide where the lot will go and to keep in mind that space is limited on James Island—because it is an island. “Because it’s an island, we have a limited amount of available properties that we can choose from to build this bus lot.”

McNeil added that his team will present these options at the next board meeting.

It’s set for November 27, 2017. The board will have to make a motion to approve one of these two options for the bus lot. If they don’t—it’s back to the drawing board.

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