DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Two Dillon County school districts have been awarded $15 million in state ESSER funding to help renovate and replace existing facilities.
South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman announced the funding for Dillon school districts 3 and 4 on Monday. District 3 serves the Latta area, while District 4 covers the Dillon area. ESSER is short for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief.
Monday’s funding announcement comes after the Education Department commissioned an independent study in April to “aid in decision making for capital funding appropriated by the General Assembly for disadvantaged schools,” according to a news release.
The review found that Dillon Four “concluded the age and condition of the five elementary schools problematic toward long term educational use without significant modification and renovation,” the news release said. The average age of schools in the district is 73, with the oldest, East Elementary, nearing 100 years old.
“With school facilities approaching 100 years of age, it is long overdue that the state provides financial support for counties like Dillon which cannot afford to build new facilities on its own,” Spearman said in the release. “With the influx of COVID-19 relief money and generous support of the General Assembly, we are pleased to be able to provide the additional funding that these districts need to provide safe, state of the art facilities that students, families, and educators need and deserve.”
Officials have also recommended consolidating four elementary schools into one new school in a central location.
“Dillon Four has funds on hand that can partially support the funding for the new elementary school while $12 million in ESSER funds from the SCDE will allow for the full build out and ensure students have classrooms and a facility that are safe and conducive to learning in the 21st Century,” the release said.
Dillon Three, which has three schools and nearly 1,500 students, will receive $3 million to build more classrooms at the elementary school and high school, the release said. It’s part of a recommendation to close the 70-year-old middle school. Funding will also be used to improve safety infrastructure within the district.
Dillon Three plans to supplement the ESSER funding, according to the release.
In addition to the money awarded to Dillon County schools, the state Education Department plans to provide $25 million to other school districts for capital improvements from $211 million set aside from the American Rescue Plan and $100 million in state funds appropriated under the fiscal year 2021-22 state budget.