Dorchester District two finalizes sites for new schools - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Dorchester District two finalizes sites for new schools

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Dorchester School District Two announced today that the site for a new middle school of the arts and an elementary school has been finalized this week.  The schools will be built on a shared campus located on Highway #61 and Summers Drive in MeadWestvaco's planned community of East Edisto.  School board Construction Committee members Sam Clark, Gail Hughes, Charlie Stoudenmire, and Superintendent Joe Pye updated media representatives this morning on site selections for the four new schools that are a major part of the $179 million building program approved by voters in November 2012.

School Board Chairman Gail Hughes stated that the board approved this site for the two schools following Executive Session on Monday evening, August 26th, and details were finalized on Tuesday.  "It has been challenging to find available acreage that would be appropriate for new schools in our district," said Hughes.  "A number of sites that were under consideration early on in the process had to be eliminated due to lack of infrastructure as well as seismic and wetland issues.  By building two schools on this property, support areas of the schools such as parking areas can be shared which will save money on the projects." 

MeadWestvaco is donating the property to the district for the two new schools. Superintendent Joe Pye commented that this location is a good one that will allow the district to replicate the design of Eagle Nest Elementary School and River Oaks Middle School which share a campus off of Dorchester Road.  These are two of the district's newer schools that opened in 2007.  Pye said, "Approximately $3 million will be saved on design and construction costs by using the prototype design of Eagle Nest Elementary and River Oaks Middle for the new schools." 

Mr. Pye praised MeadWestvaco for partnering with the district to serve this high-growth area of the community.  He also announced that MeadWestvaco will donate $2.5 million to enhance the auditorium of the new school of the arts.  The 1,000-seat, state of the art auditorium will serve the entire district as well as be available for community events. Pye said, "This is truly a gift for the entire community."

The second elementary school will be located on the Pine Trace property near the Coastal Center on Miles Road.  The district purchased this property two years ago from Dorchester County for approximately $500,000.  The district will use the design of Joseph R. Pye Elementary as the prototype for this new school, as well as the third elementary school.  Gail Hughes said that negotiations for the site of the third elementary school are ongoing but there should be an announcement on this property in the next several weeks.

The four new schools will add approximately 3,000 additional seats that will alleviate the overcrowded schools in Dorchester School District Two.  The three elementary schools are projected to open in August 2015 and the new middle school will open in 2016.  Bob Folkman, district capital improvement facilitator, said that construction on the new schools should begin in earnest in the early spring of 2014.  The $179 million building program will also include major additions and renovations at a number of other district schools, including the three high schools.

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