Clover school board OKs $85M in bond projects

news@enquirerherald.comJanuary 24, 2013 

— The Clover school board gave unanimous approval Tuesday to an $85 million construction package for a 2014 bond referendum, despite objections from one resident who argued that Clover High School would become too large.

The plan approved by the board calls for a new elemenary and middle school, building renovations at Clover Middle to create a ninth-grade academy and athletic field improvements.

Voters would be asked to approve borrowing “about $60 million” for the plans, according to Superintendent Marc Sosne, and the district would make a down payment of about $25 million. Under the plans, the new schools would open in the fall of 2017.

Lake Wylie resident Don Long, a member of the Winthrop University board of trustees, told the board before the vote that he objects to the plans. He said the larger high school proposed in the plans would mean a lower quality of education and reduced property values.

Long said after the meeting that the plans are “absolutely wrong.”

However, board members gave no response to Long and made no comment during the vote. They listened to a short summary by Sosne, who said it was “time to move ahead with some new buildings.”

Under the plans approved by the board, voters will be asked to approve borrowing about $60 million to pay for new elementary school in Lake Wylie; a new middle school in the Clover area to replace present Clover Middle; and renovations to the Clover Middle building to become a ninth-grade academy. It also would include improvements and athletic turf at Memorial Stadium and turf at two other athletic fields.

In speaking to the board, Long referred to numerous studies on the best size of a high school, saying “the general conclusion is that bigger is not better.” He said that 1,600 to 1,800 students has been considered the optimum size.

Under the bond plans, Sosne has said that Clover High School would have a peak enrollment of 3,400 students, which would include a separate ninth-grade academy housed at present Clover Middle School.

Sosne emphasized before the vote that the ninth-grade academy would be a separate academic program from the high school, although it would share some resources and some extracurricular programs.

Long said that only seven high schools in South Carolina have more than 2,100 students. He told the board that at 3,400 students, Clover High “would potentially be the largest high school in South Carolina.”

The package of projects approved by the board for the bond include:

A new middle school, at $40 million, to replace Clover Middle. School officials have discussed building the school on a 125-acre parcel the district owns on Barrett Road north of Clover.

However, Sosne has said one option to make that school closer to Lake Wylie students who would attend there is to build it on about 40 acres the district owns behind the district office in Clover. He told board members Tuesday that a traffic study is underway for both sites.

A new elementary school, at $30 million, in the Lake Wylie area, to reduce enrollment at Crowders Creek Elementary. The school is proposed on about 35 acres the district owns on Oakridge Road, across from existing Oakridge Middle. Plans call for it to include a track, which is not available at Oakridge Middle because there wasn’t enough land.

Sosne has proposed that the new elementary school would free up space at Crowders Creek to be used for office space. That space would be used by both the special education program and school social workers and psychologists, now at the Clover Resource Center. He said enrollment at Crowders, now at more than 1,000, would go down to around 700 after the new school opens.

A $10 million renovation of existing Clover Middle School to become a ninth-grade academy for Clover High. This would expand the high school enrollment capacity to about 3,400 students, Sosne has said, and allow Clover to remain a community unified by a single high school.

A facelift of 8,000-seat Memorial Stadium, including restroom renovations and artificial turf for the athletic field. This project, budgeted at about $5 million, also would include artificial turf for two other athletic fields, at Clover High and existing Clover Middle School.

Check back for more details on the plans.

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