Monday, thousands of Lowcountry students head back to school. As we begin a new school year, we continue our conversation with the leaders of our local school districts. Today, we head to Dorchester District Two.
It’s a milestone year for Dorchester School District Two Superintendent Joseph Pye. He begins his twentieth year as leader of the district where he began his teaching career. “I want to carry that historic torch. As our community has drastically changed, thousands of people have moved in. We’ve kept up with the growth the best we could, and we have not lost our quality.”
The district has nearly 28-thousand students in twenty-five schools. To keep up with growth, DD2 built new schools. The new Rollings School of the Arts, originally scheduled to open last year, will open this year. Pye says, “We have no ‘have not’ schools in this district. Everything we do in hiring, and what we do for children is all giving everybody the same equal opportunity. We’re not going to have “the haves” and “have nots.”
Later this year, Summerville High School will open a new manufacturing center. The district’s three high schools remain among the ten largest schools in the state. Pye says three district schools remain overcrowded, and they will still need new schools down the road. “It’s all going moving toward the Ridgeville area, with Volvo and all that happening, growth is moving that way. We already have four school sites out in the East Edisto area plus one more in the Ponds. We have five sites already out there that we could build schools on, and we will be in the very near future because we are growing.”
Also new this year, construction on a new aquatic center, a partnership with the City of North Charleston. Pye says, “The most important thing is the safety peace. We’re going to take a grade, probably second or third, all the students if their parents opt in, will be taken there. They will be taken there, and taught swimming lessons, and that will be their P.E. for that week. Every single one of them. We’re talking about probably two-thousand kids.”
To improve safety measures, for the first time, DD2 will have an SRO in every school this year. The district is also looking at several security measures, including a clear bag policy, metal detectors, special glass windows, and alert buttons.
Pye’s message to parents, “You need to know your child is safe, and your child is being nurtured, and you’re going to be communicated with if there is anything you should know as a parent, so we wan to build that bond that partnership.”
At last check, the district had nine teacher shortages.