Darlington County School District building three new schools

Darlington County School District building three new schools
Theme during the public forum meetings with the DCSD. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Theme during the public forum meetings with the DCSD. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Darlington County School District is holding six public forum meetings to hear from the community before it starts to build three new schools that will replace six aging ones.

A $60 million bond referendum Darlington County voters passed in November 2016 is paying for the new construction of the schools.

Brunson Dargan Elementary will merge with Cain Elementary. It has been around for 51 years, and teacher and parent Kathryn Wright is one who is excited about it.

"I've been in this school for 11 years and to just have a new building and to have the facilities updated for our students to their needs, that's an exciting opportunity for us teachers and students," Wright said.

The Wright family wants to see the programs at Brunson Dargan, as well as others, continue at the new school.

"One of them is flexible seating that we have already allocated at our school, and to provide for learning spaces all around throughout the school. Writable walls, writable windows, to just have every nook and cranny to be a learning space for all the students," Wright said.

Multiple families came to the forum to express what they want to see in the new schools. Sheila Washington-Davis is another teacher and parent in the Darlington County School District. She would like to see younger students learn a foreign language.

"You know, Spanish is becoming a second language, so having students learn that language early on is very important," Washington-Davis said.

"Let's build your dream school" is the theme for all of the meetings in each community. Washington Street and West Hartsville Elementary schools will get a brand new facility and a new school will replace Lamar and Spaulding Elementary schools.

The average age of the six schools being replaced is close to 60 years old.

Dale Collier, president of Brownstone Construction Group, said $20 million will go toward each school.

"What we call that is the program budget for the entirety of the schools, not just the construction on it," Collier said. "So when you get beyond construction, you talk about architect fees, design fees, land purchasing, talk about having furniture to be purchased."

He assured the community the construction of the three state-of-the-art schools will not interfere with learning and the transition will be safe and smooth.

"Sometimes we see that this type of thing happens in other areas, but when we are able to come to a smaller community like this, it really does your heart well. Growing up in a small one myself, it's something I never thought I would be involved in," Collier said.

The DCSD has not decided what will happen with the old schools, or the names of the three new ones. Officials encourage people to email or call the district with any needs and wants when it comes to the construction of the new buildings.

A public meeting will be held Thursday at 12 p.m. at Spaulding Middle School in Lamar, and another will start at 6 p.m. at Cain Elementary.

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