District breaks ground on $18.3M elementary school at Darlington

August 29, 2018
CONTRIBUTED Rendering of Darlington's new elementary school.

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Darlington County School District officials broke ground Tuesday for a new $18.3 million elementary school for the Darlington area, the first of three new schools planned for the district at a total cost of about $60 million.

“This is a great day for the Darlington County School District and a great day for our community,” District Superintendent Tim Newman said.

This has been a long, four-year process, said Society Hill board member Connell Delaine.

Darlington board member Dr. Thelma Dawson said the new school is something she has long supported.

“I hope I live enough to see it,” she said. “I feel fabulous. I’m excited.”

The new school will consolidate and replace the aging Cain Elementary and Brunson-Dargan Elementary schools. The new nearly 80,000-square-foot school will be built on the current Cain Elementary site of approximately 20 acres on H Avenue and First Street.

The schools that will be replaced are 50 to 60 years old, Newman said.

Darlington County voters approved the three new elementary schools in a $60 million bond referendum in 2016. The bond will be financed by a one-cent sales tax.

New schools also will be built in Hartsville and Lamar to replace existing elementary schools.

Newman said Wednesday’s groundbreaking demonstrates a commitment by the school district and the Darlington County Board of Education to the future of education and children in Darlington County.

He said for voters to approve the schools in a referendum also demonstrates a commitment to children in the community.

“It represents a commitment to kids and to education,” Newman said. “It says that they understand that the future depends on our kids. It’s a commitment to the future.”

The new schools, he said, will provide 21st-century learning capabilities to students.

Dawson said the new Darlington school is something she has worked for since 1982.

The new school is expected to open with approximately 500 students and can accommodate up to 600 in its core or main inside areas with room to grow if needed, said Dale Collier, president of Brownstone Construction Group of Columbia, the construction management firm overseeing all three projects.

The new Hartsville school will be on Bay Road between Bobo Newsom Highway and Westwinds Drive and will consolidate and replace Washington Street and West Hartsville elementary schools.

Lamar’s new school, which will be across from the intersection of Country Club Road and Lamar Highway (U.S. 401), will combine and replace Lamar and Spaulding elementary schools.

Officials have not yet named the new schools.

Each of the six schools to be replaced are small schools with small enrollments and are more than 50 years old. Some are older than 60.

District officials say aging schools present challenges in maintenance, security measures and the ability to handle current and future technology needs.

The Darlington school was the first of the three schools for which bids were submitted and on which work will begin.

Plans call for the three schools to be built simultaneously with a project budget for each of $20 million and for all three schools to be ready for occupancy by the end of 2019.

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