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Schools: WHS expansion in district's capital plan

By Sarah L. Smith
Coastal Observer

The Georgetown County School District’s new capital plan includes $3.5 million to build a new media center at Waccamaw High School and convert the current library into classrooms.

The work is part of $31.2 million in capital projects scheduled between 2009 and 2015.

The work at Waccamaw High is scheduled for the 2010-11 school year. It’s the biggest single project for area schools in the plan.

It is also very much needed, according to Randy Dozier, superintendant of schools. The plan is to build a media center off of the arts wing and turn the old center into classrooms.

“There is no question that there is a need for that,” he said.

Waccamaw Elementary School is scheduled to get a new roof in the plan. That $661,000 project was pushed back from this summer to 2010.

The changes aren’t a surprise to Lisa Ackerman, the director of district procurement.

“I tell the board each time I get up to speak that it’s a living document,” Ackerman said of the capital projects plan.

“Most of the projects in the 2009-2010 plan are the same; there are very few items that were pulled out, but the reason items were pulled out either or estimates changed or we had a fixed amount of money to borrow. It’s really based on priorities,” she said.

The revised capital plan is about $9 million less than last year’s, which included $14 million for construction of Waccamaw Intermediate School.

Smaller items, like lighting, new air conditioners, shades, storage, ovens and warming cabinets for cafeterias make up more of the updated capital plan that they did in the original. Dozier said these items may come as a surprise to some.

“Our new schools are now 10 years old,” he said. Much like your house, you’re going to have roof work, equipment failure ... You can’t defer building maintenance.”

While the district’s operating budget has been hit by cutbacks in state funding, the capital budget is funded through local property taxes, so the funding has remained stable.

Nevertheless, the district showed that $18.6 million in projects weren’t funded in last year’s plan. Ackerman anticipates funding $5.5 million worth of projects for the upcoming school year.

With this updated version of the plan in mind, the school board will vote on whether or not to accept a general obligation bond at Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting.

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