As Cane Bay Middle School opens its doors today, students, teachers and staff will start working to prove the school's academic merit.
But a test for the brand new facility — the bricks and mortar, the pipes and pumps, the lights and fixtures — was completed before the first student approached the entrance. The test results, however, won't be available until Nov. 6.
On Election Day, the Berkeley County School District will be looking to residents to approve a new $198 million capital building program. And they're hopingthat when those voters weigh the question in the booth, they'll be thinking about the work at Cane Bay Middle.
Easily modified for larger or smaller student populations, the $20 million school's design will be reused for future projects. District staff also point out the school's focus on natural light and an ice-storage cooling system that will reduce energy costs.
At Cane Bay Middle's dedication last week, board Chairman Doug Cooper said it was important to show voters what the district could do.
"This is just a taste of what's possible," he said. "We're real excited as a board and an administration to take this referendum forward — to be able to do this across our county, over and over again."
The proposed capital program includes a new high school and middle school on Clements Ferry Road and elementary schools at Tanner Plantation, the Sheep Island area and Foxbank Plantation.
At Cane Bay Middle's dedication, Superintendent Rodney Thompson told the crowd the project is an important example of "a quality school at a quality price."
To that point, he received a strong endorsement from Ben Gramling of Gramling Brothers Real Estate, the Cane Bay developers that donated land for all three Cane Bay schools.
"The fiscal responsibility they've shown in doing this project — with the citizens of Berkeley County's money — should be congratulated," Gramling said at the dedication. "They've come up with a new way of doing things, a new way to cut costs and still deliver a quality product."
But referendum advocates like Thompson will tell you that the message of "quality" goes beyond the new schools the district will be building. The referendum question includes major renovations at Goose Creek and Stratford high schools, as well as Marrington Middle and others.
"We cannot forget that all of our children deserve adequet facilities," Thompson told the crowd last week. "And, if you would like to support our efforts as we work to provide quality facilities for all of our students, you'll have the opportunity to support our efforts in November."