Florence One Committee considers building a fourth high school, renovations for three others

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Florence School District One facilities committee met Wednesday morning to discuss a plan to build a new high school in the district and renovate the three existing high schools.

Two weeks ago, the committee considered renovating three high schools instead of building three new schools.

Wednesday, the group learned it could cost the district millions of dollars if renovations at the high schools are more than the property value.

“If you exceed 50 percent of the insured value you have to bring it up to current codes,” explained Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Lionel Brown.

“I don’t think the idea of renovating the three schools is off the table. We’ve just have to understand the factors all of the factors that play into that,” said Florence School District One Board Chair Barry Townsend.

Former Florence Mayor and resident Frank Willis believes renovating and adding buildings to the high schools is a good idea.

“Upgrade the faculties and put the balance of their money back in the curriculum. Curriculum is what is really critical to us,” stressed Willis.

Renovating the high schools will cost:

  • Wilson High School– $17m
  • South Florence High School—15m
  • West Florence- Under Review

Townsend says the renovations will not address safety concerns with overcrowding at West or South Florence High.

“We’d be not necessarily building for the future we’d be building for today,” he said.

Now the committee is considering a fourth option for a bond referendum:

  1. Build three new high schools proposed $230 million bond referendum (for high schools alone)
  2. Build a new West Florence High School and renovate South Florence and Wilson High– included in the originally proposed $266 million bond (this includes other schools)
  3. Renovations at all three high schools
  4. Renovate three high schools, build new high school estimated $120M bond (West Florence renovations not included)

Brown says a 2006 study recommended a fourth high school.

Townsend says the committee is working to find the best solutions for the district.

“The real challenge is to… balance three things our needs… what our actual student needs are. What we can afford and what the public will support,” he concludes.

The committee plans to discuss the bond cost and potential location for a fourth high school – at its next meeting.

The meeting date has not been set yet.