Parts of 2 Upstate schools knocked down as work continues on $132 million building program

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WILLIAMSTON, SC (WSPA) – The walls are coming down at two schools in Anderson School District One as part of a $132 million building program there.

Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said phase one is coming to an end in that plan. Parts of Palmetto and Wren Middle Schools are being torn down, so phase two can begin.

The schools, which were built in the 50’s, will soon be completely rebuilt.

“I think it’s a really great thing because the middle school is getting really old, and I think that it needed refurbishment completely,” said Alyssa Kitchens, Palmetto High School student.

Superintendent Binnicker said after demolition, the next step is to build two wings at each of the schools. The goal is to have entirely new schools.

“Basically what we’re doing is, we’re building a building and then we tear down a building. So where the students would have gone in the old building, they will now go to the new building,” Binnicker said.

“We started about two years ago with a plan for a building program. We did some analysis of our building needs, and one of the things that came out of those needs analysis were that our two middle schools were in a very rough shape,” said Superintendent Binnicker.

“At Palmetto Middle School what phase two encompasses is actually a remodel of the 7th grade hallway, as well as the construction of the gym and some of the related arts buildings,” said Superintendent Binnicker. “Phase two at Wren Middle, we will be building the gym, as well as the cafeteria, as well as some of the related arts building at Wren,” he said.

Superintendent Binnicker said updates are happening at other schools too.

“We also have additions. We’re a very fast growing school district, so we’re having to add on to a number of a high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. Those additions are being done, many of them are being done right now. Most of them will be finished by the end of this summer, and some will actually go into next school year,” Superintendent Binnicker. “Still have some renovation work to be done at Palmetto High School and Wren High School as well,” he added.

Out of the $132 million program, $90 million will be spent at the two middle schools.

“It was right at about $45 million a piece for both of the middle schools, and that includes everything. That’s furniture, equipment, and all of the construction cost as well as architectural fees,” Superintendent Binnicker said.

“I think it’s really cool because we’ve seen these buildings for so long, and it’s nice to have new places to go,” said Shelby Fields, Senior at Palmetto Middle School.

So who foots the bill for the entire $132 million building program?

“Majority of that is paid for by the bond referendum. The way that works is, individuals property taxes go up a small amount in order to repay those bonds. The board also used $20 million of a local options sales tax funds over the next five years in order to help facilitate that, as well as $3 million the board set aside to use for the building fund,” Binnicker said.

Some people said they’re just happy for the middle school students who will start in a new environment this fall.

“I think that it’s worth it in the long run because we have a new school, so people are coming around the community anyways. So I think it’s okay to come through our taxes,” Kitchens said.

The Superintendent said the goal is to have both construction sites completely finished at both Wren and Palmetto Middle Schools by next Summer.

This weekend there will be an auction at Palmetto Middle School to sell some of the old furniture and equipment from the schools.

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