Florence residents to vote on $198 million school upgrade plan

Florence residents to vote on $198 million school upgrade plan

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence One school board members approved a $198 million district wide upgrade referendum at Thursday night’s meeting to be placed on the ballot in February.

Chairman Barry Townsend said the plan will allow for more security and an overall better learning experience for students.

"This impacts us in a number of ways," Townsend said.

With safety on the top of the list, Townsend said the upgrades will do away with all mobile classrooms that prove to be a major concern.

“It’s very difficult to secure the students in those mobiles, as security unfortunately is demonstrated over and over in the nation the importance of it at schools,” he said.

Four new schools will also be built: Southside and Williams Middle, Savannah Grove Elementary and a new building that will combine Timrod and Wallace Gregg Elementary.

Townsend added the new schools will be larger to allow room for sixth graders to move from the elementary schools to the middle schools.

“That is important not only to help us get in line with the rest of the country as far as middle school organization, but that’s another element that helps us get out of the mobile business,” he said.

All three high schools will benefit from the plan too. Each school will get security upgrades, an auxiliary gym and on campus stadium.

Townsend said with the schools currently sharing one stadium, the renovations will provide more individuality, while bringing communities closer together.

“We’re very excited about the prospect. I think it’s really going to help with the community engagement with the individual schools,” he said.

Residents will vote on the referendum on Feb. 26.

Townsend added if the plan moves forward, those who live within the district won’t see an impact on their taxes until 2021.

Read the full referendum below:

Shall the Board of Trustees of School District No. 1 of Florence County, South Carolina, be authorized to issue and sell, either at one time as a single issue or from time to time as several separate issues, general obligation bonds of School District No. 1 of Florence County, South Carolina, in the total principal amount of not to exceed $198,000,000, the proceeds of which shall be applied to defray costs of issuance of such bonds, architectural and engineering costs, and the costs of:

a) a new Southside Middle School;

b) a new Williams Middle School;

c) a new Savannah Grove Elementary School;

d) a new Elementary School to replace Timrod and Wallace Gregg Elementary Schools;

e) security improvements, additions, renovations, new athletic facilities, and other improvements to South Florence High School;

f) security improvements, additions, renovations, new athletic facilities, and other improvements to West Florence High School;

g) security improvements, additions, renovations, new athletic facilities, and other improvements to Wilson High School; and

h) to the extent proceeds of such general obligation bonds remain available and in such priority as determined by the Board of Trustees, renovating, repairing, expanding, equipping and furnishing of other facilities of the School District,

All of such costs to include the cost of acquiring, constructing, furnishing and equipping such projects, including without limitation the cost of technology improvements, and the costs of acquiring any real property that may be necessary for the completion of any project, and in such order of priority as may be determined by the Board of Trustees from time to time?

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