By Betsy Finklea
Building projects for both Dillon District Three and Dillon District Four were discussed at the Dillon County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday morning.
Dr. John Kirby of Dillon District Three (Latta) presented the district’s plan regarding the future of the middle school.
Kirby said the district needed a new middle school, and the estimated cost would be about $20 million. He said if they could pass a one-cent sales tax this would only generate $15,000,000, and it would take time for legislation to be introduced and passed and then the voters would decide whether or not to vote for the tax. Rather than wait, the Dillon District Three (Latta) School Board voted not to build a new middle school.
Instead, they will add on to their existing schools and move two of the four grades to the elementary school and two to the high school. Kirby said he thought the board made a “wise decision.”
The large majority of this project would be paid for with federal funds from the America Rescue Plan. The estimated cost would be $9,405,000 at $250 per square foot, which he said is a little higher than the current prices. The district will have $9,366,142 in available American Rescue Plan funds. This will leave a deficit of $38,858, which he hopes the Dillon County Board of Education will cover.
The plan calls for adding six fifth grade classes and adding six sixth grade classes to the existing wing at Latta Elementary School. They will also add a 2,000 sq.ft. multi-purpose room off of the current Latta Elementary School cafeteria. This portion will cost approximately $5,170,000.
A seventh and eighth grade wing with 10 classrooms will be added at Latta High School. They will add one bus loop in the existing Latta Middle School playground. This portion will cost approximately $4,235,000.
The plan is for the current middle school to be shut down in two years.
Kirby said he was asking for the county board to support them in the plan and said due to inflation, they may have to come to the board for additional funds. He said over the long term, they will save money on operations. Kirby said the plans have been sent to the state and approved. Kirby said Danny Shelley, who is formerly of Latta, is their architect.
In Dillon District Four, Jackie Hayes of Dillon District Four said the plans are to build a technology department and move their current technology department out of the old Maple school where they are currently housed. The district plans to close the three elementary schools and build one elementary school. The district also plans to pay for this project with federal American Rescue Act funds, but said the cost savings generated by this project will pay for itself in 10 years.
Hayes said these American Rescue Act funds will be strictly looked at and audited carefully.
Hayes said the local boards can make these decisions because American Rescue Act funds are direct appropriations to the school district.
It was stated that by August 22nd, the districts have to decide how the American Rescue Act funds will be spent.
By Betsy Finklea