Board advances plans for old middle school | News | The Press and Standard

by | March 2, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 28, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Repurposing the former Forest Circle Middle School is expected to cost approximately $7 million.
The Colleton County School Board at the Feb. 20 meeting approved a plan to issue bonds to cover the bulk of the cost of turning the unused school building into a centralized office for the district office, as well as a new home for the adult education and alternative education programs.
Last fall, the school board called on the administration to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the old school building at 500 Forest Circle would be better suited to becoming a sixth-grade academy or centralized offices. The district then hired the Hilton Head architectural firm of FWA Group to do the initial assessment and develop a cost estimate for repurposing the facility.
The firm reported that the old building would be better suited for housing the district offices and estimated the construction cost would be approximately $5,192,739.
The breakdown of the expenses includes:
• $596,063 for site work, parking and landscape improvements.
• $3,457,046 for renovation work on wings one and two.
• $733,821 for renovation work on wing three.
• $180,689 for renovations to provide a boardroom.
• $225,120 for a sprinkler system for fire protection.
The remainder of the funds generated by the bond and fund transfer would cover a number of costs including $500,000 for information technology and audio-visual systems, $379,000 for professional services and $350,000 for furniture.
The plan to cover the cost of repurposing the building requires the district’s using $1.25 million available in the budget for capital improvement projects.
Foster said the district develops Capital Improvements Project Needs annually for funds that are available, and putting Forest Circle back to work has been at the top of that list.
School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster said the district develops Capital Improvements Project Needs annually for funds that are available, and putting Forest Circle back to work has been at the top of that list.
“Over the last three years, with the hopes of repurposing the building, the district has been setting aside a portion of its capital improvement funds each year for this project,” he explained.To cover the remaining $5,500,000, the school board members approved issuing general obligation bonds.
To cover the cost of the bonds, which would be repaid over seven years, the board will institute a five-mill increase in the district’s debt service millage. According to the district, the increased millage would translate into about $20 more in property taxes on a home valued at $100,000.
The 60-year-old building was closed at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, when the district decided to consolidate the middle schools and turn the old Colleton County High School into a middle school.
The closed 53,600-square-foot building, according to a school district press release, “has suffered a great deal of vandalism due to not being fully operational.”
Under the plan, the wing of the former middle school constructed in 2005, measuring 26,100 square feet, would be renovated to become home for the adult education and alternative education programs.
The alternative education program currently operates at the Colleton County Middle School. The move to the former middle school would allow the district to expand that program.
The adult education program currently operates at the school district’s Colleton Annex Learning Center at 609 Colleton Loop. The district anticipates putting that learning center up for sale.
The district offices, currently located at 213 N. Jefferies Blvd., are owned by the county.

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