School District One finishing upgrades, begins planning for future

By David Meade
Anderson School District One Superintendent David Havird told Board members Tuesday the District is ending a ten year capital improvement plan capped by  three years of improvements funded by the one cent sales tax which began in March of 2015.
In March of 2008, Anderson School District One approved an $85,750,000 referendum to improve school facilities.
The building program included eight room additions at elementary and middle schools and Palmetto High, cafeteria and kitchen improvements, security improvements and athletic field houses, weight rooms and other facility upgrades. Most of the projects were completed between 2009 and 2011, including a big one, construction of the new Powdersville High School in 2011.
The Local Option Sales Tax, which was implemented in 2015, allowed the District to make numerous capital improvements and reduce debt service.
Havird told the Board that District One has accomplished the Board’s vision for development of district facilities and direction in providing a quality education program for students that was presented along with the building programs.
Havird said the District has “not quite outgrown” the building improvements made over the last ten years, but told the Board that now is a good time to begin thinking about the future needs of the District, for the next ten year plan.
According to Havird, a priority will be construction of new  schools for Palmetto and Wren Middle schools.
Havird said the district will also need several new 8-10 room building additions, and additional safety and security improvements, including entrances at some schools.
He also said the district will need to plan for new technology upgrades and significant building upgrades and improvements.
Havird said architects and planners will begin meeting with Palmetto and Wren faculty and staff to talk about what a new middle school will look like. He said MB Kahn will help with preconstruction planning and financial information over the next eight to ten months.
“This is a great year for planning,” he said. “We have a growing school district.”
Havird said the Local Option Sales Tax has provided District One with money to improve education and athletics as well as debt relief as promised to taxpayers before the 1 penny Local Option Sales Tax went to a referendum for voters.
Proceeds from the Local Option Sales Tax have been “well beyond our expectations” Havird said, and all of the proposed projects initially presented have been completed.
Havird said it has been “pretty remarkable” commenting on what has been accomplished.
Havird said the Board had done “a really good job planning for the future” of both academic and athletics. “The Board followed through on what we said we would do with the local option sales tax.”
Since the one cent sales tax was implemented, it brought in considerably more funds than originally anticipated.
Going through a list that was presented to voters while pushing for the Local Option Sales Tax, Havird said a high priority for the District was to provide safety and security enhancements including access doors, additional cameras, entryways, fire alarms and communications equipment.
Safety enhancements began in 2015 and were completed in mid 2016 at a cost of $238,000.
Technology Hardware and Instructional Software were also first on the list with updates district wide to sustain the Digital Innovation initiative.
District One provided funding in 2015 to help the Anderson 1&2 Career & Technology Center upgrade welding equipment, funding 15 out of 20 welders at a cost of approximately $75,000.
During late 2015 and early 2016, fourteen computer labs were replaced and the district purchased 51 laptops for teachers at an expenditure of $561,000.
Numerous improvement projects were proposed and completed during 2016 and 2017. Among them:
Equipment for band, fine arts and physical education was purchased for all schools during the spring of 2016 at a cost of $373,400.
The District was able to update digital and print media in all school libraries, renovate science/STEM labs in all schools and added new furniture at some schools. Actual expenditure $560,100.
During the summer, new seats were purchased and installed at the Wren and Palmetto High Auditoriums at a cost of $223,000.
Roof improvements were also made to Palmetto and Wren Middle Schools in July at approximate cost of $150,000.
Local Option Sales Tax funds were used for acquiring land for new school facilities. In January 2016, twelve acres were purchased on Wiggington Rd., at a cost of $367,500.
Just recently District One approved the purchase of approximately six acres of property next to the Career and Technology Center to provide space for expansion.
Havird said purchasing the property for the CTC “was a huge deal for them to be able to add four or five new programs.”
A new eight room addition has been added to Concrete Primary School, recently completed at a cost of approximately $4,200,000.
The District was able to purchase Band and Fine Arts equipment and production technologies for all schools at a cost of $325,000.
Improvements at the Wren High School Stadium and Athletic Field have recently been completed including new field house, weight room, concession stands, restrooms, ticket booths, handicap ramps and tennis courts. Projected cost of $4,800,000.
New tennis courts have been added at Powdersville High at a cost of $638,000.
Construction of a multipurpose athletic facility at Palmetto High is about to begin at a projected cost of $1,638,000.
A large activity bus for extracurricluar events has just been delivered to the District.
Havird said proposed projects for 2017-18 include:
upgrading Instructional Techonlogy and Equipment and replacement of smart boards.
HVAC improvements will be done as needed.
Work on a connector road to relieve traffic congestion at Powdersville Middle and Roe Road is being engineered and is expected to be completed by mid 2018. Anderson County and SCDOT officials are helping with plans for the project which is expected to cost $550.000.
The SC Education Improvements Sales and Use Tax Act requires school districts to use 10 percent of the proceeds to reduce property taxes by offsetting existing debt service millage.
The Anderson District One Board went further, promising voters they would set aside 20 percent of the tax proceeds for debt service.