To the Editor:

Like many others who have settled in Summerville, my wife and I were attracted by the reports of the quality of our District 2 school system for our five children.

On the first day of school I walked my daughter through a courtyard into her classroom to a trailer where I met her teacher, hugged my little girl, and said I will see you after school.

My daughter didn’t know what to think. This was new to both of us. My immediate thought was, “Is this safe?” How vulnerable is this and why aren’t they learning on the main campus?

After asking around and doing research I found that the DD2 school district was at capacity with both attending pupils and funding for construction.

I came across Act 99 that was passed into law by the General Assembly on 7/21/2009 championed by former State Senator Mike Rose.

The law stated South Carolina school districts could collect an impact fee of $2,500 for school infrastructure funds from each new residential dwelling or apartment built within the school district.

The school district could utilize these funds for science and computer labs, classrooms, libraries etc.

In 2009 the DD2 School board voted unanimously to impose the $2,500 per unit impact fee for school construction in compliance with Act 99. With the DD2 School district impact fee underway, DD2 thought they had a plan to expand and get additional funding for such construction.

Unfortunately, they were slapped with a lawsuit from two homebuilders challenging the legality of the fees imposed by DD2 making the argument that the school district is not in charge of their own budget.

Thus, leaving the responsibility to Dorchester County Council to sort out this stalemate we have today almost 10 years later.

Today the lawsuit is still pending with over $18 million sitting in Escrow and is unusable until the lawsuit is resolved. Even if DD2 were to lose the lawsuit, the $18 million would inevitably still be released to the Dorchester County School District freeing up much needed school infrastructure funds. DD2 believes that the impact fee is lawful, would help to significantly decrease classroom sizes, and give more student teacher engagement while learning.

In 2016 the General Assembly passed Act 229 which amended the South Carolina Development impact fee to allow impact fees to be imposed for public education facilities for grades K-12 similar to Act 99.

Dorchester County Council can be the instrumental in ending the dispute by simply imposing the developer impact fee accordance to Act 229 of $2,500 per new dwelling built in the district.

The homebuilders suing DD2 wouldn’t have a reason to keep the lawsuit going as they have no other choice but to suspend the lawsuit releasing the $18 million while at the same time allowing future impact fees on all new residential dwellings in the district.

This problem can be solved by putting egos aside and doing what’s right for our children.

I have promised myself to fight for these funds for the school district.

Helping people is something I have always been passionate about. I knew early on in my childhood I wanted to help people in a large capacity.

Both of my parents are health care providers and I got to see the joy they brought home from work every day.

I also saw their hardships and how they selflessly spent hours of their day making sure patients received the healthcare they deserved. Both my mom and dad inspired me to get involved with helping people.

Join me and many others as we continue to ask County Council for answers as to why both sides can’t hash this out so our kids can have a better quality of education.

Justin Roberson