New schools and additions are the focus of Aiken County Public Schools' plan for the revenue from the $90 million bond referendum approved in May.
But the projects also will affect car lines, bus drop offs, demolition of existing classrooms and even the reorientation of a school's main entrance.
Here's a detailed description of how initial construction plans Aiken County School Board members heard Tuesday will affect the new Highland Springs Elementary and Middle schools and additions at Midland Valley High, Millbrook Elementary, Hammond Hill Elementary and Belvedere Elementary.
Midland Valley High, Graniteville
Construction on a new wing with 24 classrooms could begin at Midland Valley High by the end of the summer. The new space would help alleviate overcrowding in fast-growing Area 3, which includes the Graniteville and Midland Valley areas. The school has eight portable classrooms and nine teachers who do not have dedicated classrooms and “float” from class to class when other teachers have free periods.
“We need to get these students and teachers into the building so they can work more efficiently,” said a representative from McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, which is designing the project.
The addition will be built in front of the school, facing Mustang Drive.
“It really makes a pretty good impact along the road,” she said.
The plan also would change traffic flow through the campus. Buses would drop students off in front of the school, and the loop parents use to drop students off would be increased and moved to the back of the school.
The preliminary estimated budget for the classroom wing and site changes would be about $20 million.
An alternative plan would include an auxiliary gymnasium, a multipurpose room, expanded dining, a couple of classrooms and a courtyard.
The total estimated budget including the alternate projects would be about $27 million.
“There is one competition gym, and they would love to have an additional auxiliary gym,” the representative said. “Their dining is a little bit undersized. They put about 400 students in there for each shift at lunch, and they also have wrestling in the cafeteria.
“We don't have funds allocated for the alternate projects at this time. We have $20 million allocated. You'd have to find other ways to bring in the other parts of the plan in if you want to do it now.”
Highland Springs Elementary and Middle Schools, North Augusta
The goal for the new Highland Springs Elementary and Middle schools was to have one building but “two very different schools,” a representative of LS3P architects, who created the design, told School Board members.
“So we have a great deal of separation between the middle school students and the elementary school students,” she said.
The school's media center, with separate reading rooms for the different age groups, would be between the two wings. Administrators also could share conference rooms in that central area, and the health room for the school nurses also would have separate areas for students.
The elementary school and the middle school would have distinct drop-off and pick-up areas and entrances in front of the building, which will be north and east of the intersection of Belvedere-Clearwater Road and Old Sudlow Lake Road. Access would be from Belvedere-Clearwater Road.
“When you get to the school, we want you to know clearly which is the elementary side and which is the middle school side so you know where your entry point is,” the LS3P representative said.
Buses will drop students behind the school in separate areas for elementary and middle school students.
The two schools would accommodate 800 students total, but an alternative addition for the middle school and possible future expansion for the elementary school would increase the student population to 1,200.
Design plans are still in the early stages, but construction could begin in the fall.
The preliminary estimated cost of the building and site is $32.8 million. With the alternate plans for the middle and elementary schools, the cost would increase to almost $35 million. Adding soft cost would raise the budget to just over $40 million.
Millbrook Elementary, Aiken
Security and safety have been challenges at Millbrook Elementary. The original classrooms built in the 1950s have direct access to the outside with no interior connection the the rest of the school. With a short loop to drop off students, traffic backs up in the surrounding neighborhood.
To enhance security and address other issues, the goals for the construction of a new two-story, 20 classroom addition at Millbrook Elementary are as follows:
• To redefine the school's campus, creating a new identity along Pine Log Road
• To define the school's entrance clearly
• To create a secure and cohesive floor plan, connecting the currently separated classroom buildings
• To provide secure and deliberate circulation throughout the campus.
The new addition would sit parallel to Pine Log Road and connect two existing wings, built in the early 2000s, enclosing all classroom and administrative spaces.
“All students will be internal to the school. No one will be outside,” said a representative from GMC architects, which created the design.
The plan also would help alleviate traffic congestion on the site.
After the 1950s-era wings are demolished, a new loop for parents to drop off students would be built and extend deep into the site on the west side of the campus, “allowing us to eliminate anything along the back side of the neighborhood,” the GMC representative said.
Changes to the bus drop-off lane in front of the school would eliminate an unsafe exit angle on to Pine Log Road.
“As parents drop their kids off and buses drop students off, everyone will enter at the same place, so we're creating a new identity and entry and a new look along Pine Log Road,” the GMC representative said.
“You can see an underlying theme that transportation – both cars and buses – impact all the designs and the budget process,” Board Chairman Keith Liner said.
Because the project would be built in phases, construction should take about 24 months to complete.
Design planning is in the early stages, and no date was given to start construction.
The preliminary estimated budget would be between $10 and $11 million.
Hammond Hill Elementary, North Augusta
The project goals for the addition at Hammond Hill Elementary in North Augusta, according to a presentation by Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects, are as follows:
• Eliminate nine portable classrooms
• Remove outdated facilities built in the 1950s
• Renovate facilities built in the 1990s
• Improve vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow
• Improve school safety
• Improve school image and aesthetics.
“The biggest part of this project is to get rid of nine portables,” a representative from CFS said. “Construction from the 50s is wearing out, and there is not a lot of incentive to put more money into those facilities. We've got some renovations we need to do. We've got children out in the portables walking across a parking areas, so safety is another big concern; and there's the school image and aesthetics and what we might do in the future.”
The school also has issues with bus traffic conflicting with automobile traffic, he said.
“Part of the challenge was to figure out how to get all of the cars off the street and queue them up on 16 acres,” he said. “It's a pretty small site.”
Preliminary plans would call for a proposed six-lane stacking queue to get cars off the street.
“It will take some management to handle that. Each line will go in succession,” he said. “Buses will come behind the school. There will be a loop just for buses, and we'll create some new parking behind the school.”
The initial phase of construction would build a new 24-classroom wing to eliminate the nine portable classrooms, increasing the school's capacity from 728 to 790 students.
A future phase would construct a new cafeteria, and a final phase would include a multipurpose room and a new administrative wing.
“We can build this in stages,” the CFS representative said. “We want to lay it out so that we have a good plan to add on to this schools and change the image over time. We know funds are limited.”
The preliminary estimated budget for the first phase of construction would be $15.2 million, including demolition, site construction, building construction and soft costs, such as moving expenses and playground equipment relocation.
No date was given for construction to begin.
Belvedere Elementary, Belvedere
Belvedere Elementary would get a new orientation, according to construction plans presented by a representative of McMillian Pazdan Smith Architecture. The school's entrance would move to the rear of the building, allowing for one secure entrance.
“The front door will move to the back of the school,” the representative said. “That brings one point of entry into that campus and give it a new identifiable front door.”
The school's primary street access would move from Rhomboid Place to Monterey Avenue, and the car loop for student drop-off would be increased significantly to get cars off streets in the surrounding neighborhood and provide more parking. Buses would drop students off in front of the school.
The school's classrooms built in the 1950s would be demolished and replaced with a two-story, state-of-the-art classroom and administrative wing.
The plan also would eliminate two portable classrooms and increase student capacity from about 645 students to about 760 to allow for future growth.
The preliminary estimated budget would be about $13.8 million, including soft costs, site development, demolition and new construction.
The master plan would replace the cafeteria and kitchen and allow for more classrooms in the future if needed.
No date was given for the start of construction.