By JAN TUTEN
A $14.3 million high school would be built to house both Camden and Bethune students under a five-year facilities improvement plan approved by the Kershaw County board of school trustees.
The board agreed Tuesday night to seek voter approval to issue $27.5 million in bonds to finance the school and make improvements at other district schools. No date for the referendum has been set.
The comprehensive facilities plan, prepared by an independent citizens’ committee, calls for eliminating Bethune High School and closing bethune Elementary School. THe middle and high school campus buildings would be remodeled to house students in kindergarten through eighth grade under the plan.
The plan also calls for changes from minor remodeling to major renovations for 16 district schools. No changes were recommended for the new Blaney Elementary School in Elgin and the Kershaw County Vocational Center.
“This is a tremendous step forward and meeting that the Silletti’s needs of the district. We feel very positive about it,” said Superintend Bob Falls.
A successful referendum would mean an average yearly property tax increase of $36.51 for a $50,000 home and a $51.12 annually on a $70,000 home during the 22-year payback. On the bonds, according to the committee’s report.
The largest capital project would be a new Camden high school that would be located along US 1 north of Camden.
The committee noted that the current high school, parts of which are more than 50 years old, is inadequate for some educational programs, has limited provisions for the handicapped and is overcrowded.
The Camden campus also is split by a street, which involves safety, security and student control problems, according to the committees report.
Under the plan, the 184 students attending Bethune High School would move to the new school. Enrollment at Bethune High “is not sufficient to provide a comprehensive high school program for this school,” the committee determined.
The board, however, agreed to rezone a portion of Bethune attendance lines to allow some students to attend North Central High School near Kershaw to help boost enrollment there.
Falls said the facilities improvements would begin immediately after a favorable referendum. The board is expected to set a date for the vote Monday in a specially called meeting, he said.