Elementary School #3 at Alston Middle School site
Adjoining Alston Middle School is the site for the third and last new elementary school Dorchester District Two announced Monday.
The school, temporarily called Elementary School #3, will be built on land already owned by DD2 where the ball fields and DD2 Facilities are currently located. The facilities buildings will be relocated to an as yet undermined site.
The size of the total campus for Alston Middle and the new elementary is 26.77 acres and the size for the elementary school alone is 19.42 acres.
The cost of the elementary school is a little over $22 million, which includes technology and outfitting the school as well as building it.
Town Councilman Aaron Brown called a special meeting Thursday evening with invited members of the neighborhood, DD2 board members, Superintendent of Schools Joe Pye and Robert Folkman, capital improvements facilitator for the district.
Community members asked questions, shared concerns, but overall were in support of the school being sited there. The biggest concern community members seemed to have was the loss of the ball fields.
However, the board and Pye assured stakeholders that they would relocate the ball fields during construction trying to keep the temporary sites as close to Alston as possible, and that the plan is to purchase land from adjoining property owners in order to ultimately keep the ball fields at the school site.
They pointed out that there was no guarantee though, as the land they want to purchase may not be available for purchase and is classified as wetlands requiring the Army Corp of Engineers to issue permits for use, which might not be issued.
Board members and Pye assured the public that is the land was not available or usable, they would work with the town to make sure new ball fields were built.
“We exhausted every possibility,” said Pye Monday, “and those possibilities all had issues like wetlands or utilities, which meant they were not cost effective.”
When choosing a site for a new school, said Board Vice Chair Charlie Stoudenmire, “we look at everything…demographics including poverty level, ethnic makeup, etc. We never split neighborhoods nor do we transport past a current school.”
The new school will relieve crowding at a number of other elementary schools, especially Reeves and Knightsville.
The district has owned the Alston land since the early 1950s and by using land already owned, it is saving approximately $900,000.
The new elementary school will share a bus loop with Alston.
It will be a two-story design – using the Dacusville Elementary School in Pickens County as a prototype – and have a 1,000-student capacity.
The district plans to break ground the first of March and the school is earmarked to open in August of 2015.