Darlington County approves penny sales tax to fund new schools

Darlington County approves penny sales tax to fund new schools

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Darlington County Board of Education approved sending a bond and capital sales tax referendum to voters on the November ballot.

The one penny sales tax will raise up to $60 million dollars.

That money will go toward replacing six aging elementary schools: Brunson-Dargan and Cain elementary schools in Darlington; Washington Street and West Hartsville elementary schools in Hartsville; and Spaulding and Lamar elementary schools in Lamar.

Audrey Childers, public information officer for the Darlington County School District, said the 62 percent of voters are sending the right message about education.

"It's up to the voters and so there's never ever a sure thing," Childers said. "So you know there was some nervousness as to whether or not the voters would decide that they wanted to do this or not. We are incredibly grateful that they decided this was valuable to them and they think this is a project worth moving forward on."

District officials said all of the construction, which is expected to take three years, will begin simultaneously. That was the main goal in the district pushing for this referendum to pass and to not use property tax and build the schools individually.

"It gives the kids more continuity, it gives the teachers a chance to give more collaborative work together because they are in the same building," Childers said. "So the first-grade teachers can work with fifth-grade teachers and everyone in between."

One of the main goals in the merge is the cost savings of having one campus for students instead of two, in regards to electricity, maintenance and utilities.

"There's also cost savings when you talk about transportation," Childers said. "Time savings and buses having to run to two schools versus buses running to just one school."

It's in the beginning stages of the planning process for the district to meet with architects and permitting so the construction can begin.

The funds come from the one cent of the tax on items people buy, whether they live in Darlington County or travel through.

The locations of the schools and their names, and what will happen to the current facilities has not yet been decided by the school board.

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