Berkeley County School District, South Carolina
|Berkeley County School District|
|Berkeley County, South Carolina|
|Superintendent:||Dr. Rodney Thompson|
|Number of schools:||40|
|Website:||School Home Page|
|Board of Education|
|Board president:||Kent Murray|
- 1 About the district
- 2 Superintendent
- 3 School board
- 4 Budget
- 5 Teacher salaries
- 6 Schools in Berkeley County School District
- 7 Academic performance
- 8 Issues
- 9 Contact information
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
- 12 References
About the districtBerkeley County, South Carolina. The county seat of Berkeley County is Berkeley. Berkeley County is home to 177,843 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Berkeley County underperformed in comparison to the rest of South Carolina in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 20.5 percent of Berkeley County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 24.6 percent for South Carolina as a whole. The median household income in Berkeley County was $51,476 compared to $44,623 for the state of South Carolina. The poverty rate in Berkeley County was 14.3 percent compared to 17.6 percent for the entire state.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.
The superintendent of Berkeley County School District is Dr. Rodney Thompson, who was appointed to the position in February 2011. His annual salary is estimated to be around $170,000. In September 2014, Thompson stated his intention to resign as superintendent of the district and asked the board to be released from his contract in the summer of 2015. The decision comes in lieu of an ongoing investigation into the district's 2012 "Yes 4 Schools" referendum campaign. Three district employees, including Thompson, are currently being targeted for ethics violations and other misconduct throughout that campaign. In his request email to the board, Thompson said, "between now and the summer, I will approach everyday just as I have for the last 3½ years, giving my all to continue to improve the educational services in our district."
- See also: 2012 "Yes 4 Schools" referendum campaign
The Berkeley County Board of Education is a nonpartisan board that consists of nine members elected to four-year terms. They serve by specific geographic district.
School board elections
Members of the board are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis. Four seats were up for election on November 4, 2014. Five seats will be on the ballot in November 2016.
Public participation in board meetings
The board maintains the following policy regarding public participation in board meetings last revised in 2011:
The table below displays the budget for Berkeley County School District:
Berkeley County teacher salaries are based on years of experience and education attainment. A teacher can earn higher salaries by pursuing advanced degrees. The following table details the salary schedule for the 2014-2015 school year.
Schools in Berkeley County School District
The district served 29,092 students during the 2011-2012 school year. The district experienced a 3.5 percent increase in enrollment between 2010 and 2012. The following chart details enrollment in the district between 2010 and 2012:
Berkeley County School District operates 40 schools listed below in alphabetical order:
The South Carolina Department of Education administers annual tests to district students called the South Carolina Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (SC PASS). These tests assess the proficiency of district students in five academic subjects including reading, math, science, social studies and writing. The following table details the percentage of students who met and exceeded proficiency levels on the SC PASS during the 2013-2014 school year:
2012 "Yes 4 Schools" referendum campaign
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating Berkeley County School District officials as a result of a 2012 referendum campaign meant to build five new schools and renovate 29. The $198 million referendum, which was approved by voters, added "$60 to the tax bill on a $150,000 house for three years starting in 2013, [double] that amount from 2016 until 2023, then [go] back to $60 for three more years," according to a district report. The investigation targeted district employee Amy Kovach, Superintendent Rodney Thompson and Deputy Superintendent Archie Franchini, stating that during the development of the campaign there were ethics violations and other misconduct occurring throughout. Allegations made also stated the three violated the law by working on the "Yes 4 Schools" campaign during district time and using district resources. Kovach was indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury on one count of "Violation of Ethics Act: Use of Public Funds to Influence the Outcome of an Election." She was placed on administrative leave with pay, and she faced a fine of up to $5,000 or one year in prison. As of February 2014, the district had spent about $1.7 million on legal fees on the case.
Outside legal spending
According to a report by The Post and Courier, Berkeley County School District lead the state in outside legal spending. A large contributing factor was that, since 2011, the district had spent $1.7 million on legal fees as a result of an ongoing investigation into ethics violations in the 2012 "Yes 4 Schools" building referendum campaign. Collectively, South Carolina school districts spent $22 million on legal assistance since 2011 as of March 2014. This was an average of nearly $100,000 per year per district. The legal-related data was gathered by The Post and Courier through Freedom of Information Act requests filed with South Carolina's 81 county-level school districts.
Lawsuit against Board Chairman Kent Murray
In June 2013, Nancy Corbin, Linda Riney and former board member Terry Hardesty filed a lawsuit against Board Chairman Kent Murray, stating that their first and 14th amendment rights were violated at a school board meeting when Murray prohibited comments about the district's ongoing investigation regarding its 2012 "Yes 4 Schools" referendum campaign. Murray said the move was an attempt to "protect the integrity of the board’s decision-making process and ensure the ability to provide due process to our employees.” Murray also stated that the change to the meeting agenda was at the discretion of lawyers involved with the case. In September 2013, the board made the decision to lift the ban on comments about the campaign. The time for public commentary was also doubled, speakers were allowed to talk about district-level executives and a provision allowing the chairman to let people speak longer than three minutes was modified. According to Hardesty, "the change in policy, from [his] perspective, means that they figured out there’s something wrong."