FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - With all the growth happening in Florence, the school districts also have to keep up, which is exactly what one elementary school is doing.
Delmae Heights Elementary School in Florence School District 1 is getting a new building after the district purchased a 20-acre piece of land right next to the current Delmae Heights to expand the property.
It will be turned into a 105,000-square-foot building to house 1,200 students. Currently, 640 children are enrolled at Delmae Heights.
"We are the first school in phase two and the reason for that has to do with the population that is growing on this side of the city," said Delmae Heights Principal Roy Ann Jolley. "In addition, we lost some students for overcrowding to Davis, so this gives us the opportunity to have enough room and space to accommodate the new people moving in the area."
Growth in Florence has also led to the expansion of three other schools. Jolley said Delmae Heights Elementary may be growing, but what happens inside the walls will remain the same.
"We will still be a school of excellence," Jolley said. "We will still be a family-oriented school. We will continue to be a school where kids and character count. We will continue to look to our parents for their help and support. We will continue to be a school where the community is involved. We will just be in a new building."
Delmae is one of the most diverse schools in the school district, with a large population of Spanish-speaking students.
"For me, it's very important for my daughter to speak Spanish too, because it is my culture, you know," said Maria Salcido, a Delmae parent whose family primarily speaks Spanish. "And it is very important for her, because in the future maybe there will be more good work for both languages."
Delmae is the only school with a full time ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher in the district, and the program will start in kindergarten for students to participate in.
The building expansion will happen during a road widening project on Cashua Drive that will help with overcrowding during school drop-off and pick-up. It will turn into four lanes going both ways.
"Presently, Delmae has more students that come to schools in cars than buses so our car line is very, very long," Jolley said. "My thought would be that with four lanes, traffic will be able to move faster."
In summer 2017, the school site will be torn down and turned into the future parking lot and car lines, and students will move into the new building.