Florence District One considers 3 options for better high school buildings

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) - The Florence School District One Facility Committee met Wednesday to talk about three options regarding a multi-million dollar bond referendum to build or renovate new high schools.

The Florence One board got backlash from parents and residents about the original $266 million bond to build a new West Florence High School and renovate South Florence and Wilson High. Now the facilities committee is looking at yet another way to be fair district-wide. The Florence one facilities committee got an update Wednesday on current school building needs.

School Board Chair Barry Townsend said, "As we plan going forward, we have not had the money in order to properly maintain our buildings. We want to make sure whatever we do going forward that that is built into that."

News13 received a copy of the ‘2015 Long Range Facility Needs Assessment,' which recommends a new high school for West Florence and multi-million dollar renovations, including security upgrades, at South Florence and Wilson.

Townsend says the board has three options:

  1. Build three new high schools with a 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 - proposed cost under review

Townsend believes the district cannot afford three new high schools because property tax rates would triple. The committee will now look into renovations for each high school instead.

"The major drawback to that is again at the West Florence site. We can renovate it, update it, make it more attractive and deal with some of the security issues. We don't have the space to add capacity," said Townsend.

The committee says the plan will impact zoning and send some West Florence students to South Florence or Wilson.

"The people who moved to a certain area to attend a specific school are not looking for us to rezone them to a different school. There are drawbacks to all of the options available," said Townsend.

The committee will meet again next week to review information from the maintenance department. The next meeting date has not been set.

The South Carolina Office of School Facilities visited the high schools to make sure the buildings are maintained under current regulations and restrictions. The school district board will review the results of the state office visit next week.

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