Clover school board OKs bond vote for 2 new schools, aquatics center

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comNovember 19, 2013 

— The Clover school board on Nov. 18 approved a March 22 bond referendum that would ask voters to OK borrowing $67 million for five projects, including two new schools and an aquatic/fitness center.

Ken Love, assistant superintendent for business services, said five construction projects that would be funded by the bond total $99 million, which is “a little bit more than we had talked about.”

However, Love said the district will put down $32 million in “seed money” that it has saved during the past few years, reducing the amount it would need to borrow.

Superintendent Marc Sosne said the cost of the total construction package is higher in part because construction costs are beginning to rise. He also said the district tried to make its estimates as accurate as possible by including smaller costs such as fees.

The projects and estimated costs are:

• $38.5 million for a new middle school on Barrett Road in Clover, to replace Clover Middle School. The board had previously considered another site behind the district office, but Sosne said it instead chose the 125-acre Barrett Road site.

• $23.5 million for a new elementary school on about 35 acres on Oakridge Road in Lake Wylie, across from Oakridge Middle School.

• $14 million for an aquatics and fitness center on the north side of Crowders Creek Elementary School on S.C. 274 in the Lake Wylie area.

Sosne said the school district would build the center the Upper Palmetto YMCA would operate it. The district would use it for elementary school swimming classes and swim team practices and events.

• $9.7 million for renovations to Clover Middle School, which would be transformed into a ninth-grade academy for Clover High School. This would expand the capacity of the high school to about 3,400 students and delay the need for a second high school.

• $5.9 million for renovations and artificial turf for Clover’s Memorial Stadium and turf at two other fields, at Clover High and existing Clover Middle School.

The balance includes $7.4 million for furnishings, equipment, landscaping and other costs.

Sosne said the aquatics center is important because Clover needs to teach swimming lessons to students and have a place for its high school swim team to practice and compete.

He said swimming “is a life skill” that students in a lakeside community need to learn.

He said YMCA officials have said the combined aquatics and fitness center make the center more financially viable to operate than an aquatics center alone.

Sosne said the school district is working on an agreement with the YMCA.

School officials also announced the results of a community survey on the bond referendum, conducted in late October by K12 Insight, a company contracted by the district to conduct surveys.

The two-week survey include 1,802 respondents.

District spokesman Mychal Frost said the survey asked respondents’ views on each of the five construction projects planned under the bond.

Frost said the results were “favorable.” He said the percentage of survey respondents who said they “strongly” favor or “somewhat” favor each of the construction projects is:

• New elementary school: 78 percent.

• New middle school: 81 percent

• Clover Middle School renovation: 77 percent

• Memorial Stadium and athletic fields: 79 percent

• Aquatics and fitness center: 76 percent.

The district’s construction project manager, Cumming Corp., has been working to complete site surveys and other pre-construction steps so the projects can move forward quickly if the bond is approved, Sosne said.

Frost said a bond steering committee composed of community members will begin informational presentations to the community on the bond referendum in January.

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