Darlington County School Board votes to consolidate schools, build new elementary school

(Cameron Crowe WMBF)
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:06 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:07 PM EST
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DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Darlington County Board of Education voted to consolidate two schools and have them be housed under one new roof.

The board voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward with construction on the new school that will house St. John’s Elementary School and Rosenwald Elementary/Middle School.

“This is really about what is most beneficial for our children. Education and safety are what we should be concerned with the most,” said Warren Jeffords, chairman of the board of education. “It’s not an easy decision when you are talking about merging schools and closing schools. It’s a very difficult decision. But ultimately, it’s about our children and giving them the best opportunities we can.”

There were several public meetings to share information about the project. In making its decision, the board considered the age of St. John’s Elementary School, which is between 100 to 200 years old, along with the declining enrollment at Rosenwald Elementary/Middle School. Currently there are only 127 students from Pre-K to 8th grade at the school.

“This was a difficult decision for the board. The historical significance of both Rosenwald and St. John’s speaks for itself,” said Superintendent Dr. Tim Newman. “Merging these two schools into a newly constructed modern, technology-rich, safe, and secure building with educational spaces suited for today’s learners is what we believe is best for our students’ future. I know there may be some disappointment in both communities, but I hope everyone understands our primary commitment is to student success.”

Several board members said they would like to find new uses and purposes for the old school buildings in the community.

The new school will be built at 2308 N. Governor Williams Highway on land the school district purchased in the spring. It’s expected to cost around $30 million and will be paid for with existing district funds and will not require a referendum or tax increase.

The school district added that no reductions in staff are expected with the new facility.

The new school is expected to be completed in time for the 2025-2026 school year.