BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – More than 38,000 students will head back to school Monday in Berkeley County. It’s the first full year under the Berkeley County School District’s new superintendent Dr. Anthony Dixon.

“This is going to be the best year ever, and we’ll do it again next year. I would like to say to our students, parents, teachers, and community, I want to thank everyone for entrusting me as the leader of this district,” said Dr. Dixon, who has worked in Berkeley County for fifteen years.

The Berkeley County School District (BCSD) is the fourth largest school district in South Carolina and the largest when it comes to land mass. Managing growth is a big concern.

“One of the fastest-growing districts in South Carolina, and just growing rapidly every day. We’re growing about a thousand students a year. We want to make sure we’re responding to the growth of the district,” he said. “We’ve been gifted by voters the approval of a penny sales tax, and so we want to make sure we are responding to the growth, making sure we’re building schools, and upgrading athletic facilities, and doing what we promised voters will do.”

The district is opening a new school this year – Carolyn Lewis School in Summerville, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade.

“The board approved phase-one of that plan where we’re looking at renovating a school, Hanahan Middle School, and building two new schools within the next two years in the Black Town Road, Jedbug area, and a middle school in the Nexton community,” said Dr. Dixon.

BCSD has hired 12 new school resource officers this year which means only two of their 48 schools will not have an officer. But both of those schools are located directly next to another school that does have an assigned SRO.

The district has 5,000 employees on staff, and around 2,000 teachers. Still, they are working to hire several educators for the 2023-24 school year.

And while most school districts in South Carolina have moved to – or are discussing – modified calendars, Dr. Dixon says some teachers have expressed interest in changing the district’s calendar as well.

“We’ve had teachers who shared their interest in it. Some parents shared their thoughts and concerns. As we look into our 24-25 and 25-26 school year, we will work collaboratively with the board to see if they want us to prepare an example calendar as to what a modified calendar looks like, and leave it up to the teachers, our community stakeholders, and our board to see if they want to make that decision,” explained Dr. Dixon.

There have been several changes in BCSD leadership in recent years, Dr. Dixon says he wants to reassure the community he is focused and committed to doing the work in Berkeley County.

“This job is a calling for me. It’s not something I just woke up one morning and decided to do. It wasn’t a challenge I take lightly, and so with that mission and that passion, I look forward to the future, and what’s coming this year,” he said. “We are in a great place, and we are ready to continue to make a positive difference, bringing this community together, focusing on restoration, focusing on reconciliation, and making sure our students stay at the heart of what we do.”

Berkeley County students return to the classroom on Monday, August 21st.