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Education: Charter school construction ready to start race with clock

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Construction can start as early as next week on the new home for Coastal Montessori Charter School. The clock starts ticking Sunday on the 300-day construction schedule.

The 27,500-square-foot building on Highway 17 at Old Plantation Drive between Hagley and Allston Plantation is due for completion on Aug. 19, 2016. That’s the day after Georgetown County schools are due to open.

“We know that we’re going to be running over,” said Rob Horvath, who chairs the charter school board.

While charter schools get public funds for operations, they have to fund construction themselves. Coastal Montessori is paying for 6.9 acres and a $4.55 million building with a $6 million low-interest loan from the federal Rural Development agency. The school bought the property in September 2014 and has spent the last year creating plans, hiring a contractor and completing its financing.

The contract was awarded in August to FBi Construction of Florence, which also built Waccamaw Intermediate with SGA Architecture of Pawleys Island, the designer of the charter school.

The school still hopes to be in its new building at the start of the school year, but is prepared to remain a little longer in the vacant wing at Waccamaw Middle School where it opened in 2012. “By the last day of school, we’ll know where it’s going,” Horvath said.

“We have Plans B and C and other plans we can look at,” Georgetown County Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

The county school board this week approved an amendment to the Coastal Montessori charter that will allow it to add seventh- and eighth-grades. The school now has 191 students in grades one through six. It will add 32 seventh-grade students in 2016 and add eighth-grade in 2017.

Facilty study | A Columbia firm will start a review of district facilities that will form the basis of a capital improvement plan. M.B. Kahn Construction will be paid $226,660.

That’s less than the $500,000 top estimate for the work. The last study was done before voters approved a school bond referendum in 1997.

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