School District One Board gets first look at designs for two new middle schools

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By David Meade
The Anderson School District One Board got their first look Tuesday at preliminary architectural designs for two new District One middle schools.
Scott Powell, Principal Vice President with Craig, Gaulden and Davis Architectural Firm in Greenville presented designs and information on a proposed phased construction of new Palmetto Middle and Wren Middle Schools.
Originally built as high schools in the early 1950s, the two schools are the oldest in the district.
The two designs are very similar and construction will be in two phases for Palmetto Middle and three phases for Wren Middle.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker stated that District One began looking at the building program over one year ago.
He also said that the architects with Craig, Gaulden and Davis received lots of input from teachers and administration on wants and needs for the new buildings.
Powell said the District had identified three priorities for the project: replace the two middle schools, retain newer additions and provide for safety and security.
According to Powell, the Wren Middle Phase One is the most complicated and will include a media center, main room administration and special education in the front of the building facing Wren School Road.
The second phase includes a two story building with two learning communities which allow for lots of collaboration and interaction, Powell said. It includes administration and guidance offices, science labs and classes, special education and computer labs on each floor.
There is an outdoor learning area. The second floor is identical to the first but has an open floor to look down on the learning area.
There will be renovation of the most recent 10 room addition and eighth grade learning.
It will also include a commons area, kitchen and storage, a new gym with seating for 1000 and a new stage, PE locker room and a gateway to technology area.
The school will not have an auditorium, however the gym stage will have ramps on both sides, larger doors and a nicer sound system than a typical gym, Powell said.
The exterior will be brick with a metal panel and school colors.
Phase three for Wren Middle includes a band room, orchestra room, choral room and storage and arts class. There will be new dining area and arts and media.
The entrance to the school will face Wigington Road.
Palmetto Middle is planned to be a two phase construction with renovation of the most recent 10 classroom wing addition.
A new admin and entrance will be constructed with a kitchen and cafeteria in the back. The two story learning communities will be identical but on an angle. There will be a media center included.
Phase two will include construction of a new gym with seating for 1000, stage, and rooms for band, orchestra, choral, arts and PE.
There will also be new practice field.
Palmetto’s red and gray school colors will be incorporated.
“Our goal was providing equal types of space for both schools but for them to look different,” Powell said.
Following the presentation, Board member Dr. Doug Atkins said “It looks good. It is very much needed.”
Initial plans for the phased construction on the two middle schools were presented to the board in August of 2016.
Under the proposed plan, construction of the two new schools would take place at the current school campuses while the present facilities continue to be used. Portions of both structures will be retained. Once construction is complete, the old parts will be demolished and removed.
When first presented, officials hoped to be able to retain the gyms and auditoriums, however it was later determined that the cost of renovating the gyms was not feasible. The gym upgrades will allow them to be used as auditoriums with seating for the entire student body, Powell said.
Plans are for a bond referendum to be presented to the public in 2019.
The building project, if approved, is expected to take three years to complete.