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School District One renovation and construction Print E-mail
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

With a walk through of the district’s renovation projects and a dedication of the new $15 million Richard Carroll Elementary School (RCES) scheduled for August 19, Bamberg School District One Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting, took time this week to reflect on the process that has lead to the fruition of a dream come true for Bamberg School District One.

Superintendent Schwarting noted the process started with passage of a referendum “by a slim majority” on March 16, 2010, that allowed the district to receive $20 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Funds) and $9 million in Build America Bonds.

Schwarting, who has been Superintendent of Bamberg School District One for 13 years and has been employed in the district in various capacities for 41 years, said the district really built “at a good time” considering the condition of the economy. “Companies were hungry for work,” and that helped with some of the cost with building supplies, that kept cost down and allowed the work to be completed right at budget and not exceed the $29 million mark.

Schwarting stated she was “grateful” for those who “worked so hard” on the referendum to pass and “give us these opportunities,” adding “whether you voted yes or no, I hope people will take the time to come out and see what your tax dollars are doing for our children. I feel really good about these buildings and hope people will take a chance to go through the renovations, as well as, the new school on August 19.”

The superintendent noted that while the new RCES may have garnered much of the attention, “a large amount of work,” has been done in the two older schools as well.

Bamberg-Ehrhardt Middle and High Schools have had “significant renovations” in the areas of electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. At the high school, the entire building has been sprinkled, as required by the Office of School Facilities, in case of a fire. All systems in both facilities have been upgraded to include new security systems, fire alarm systems, and public address systems. New tile flooring has also been added in the majority of areas in the new kitchens of the renovated schools. All life safety issues have been addressed in each of the schools.

Schwarting called the new spacious RCES, “a facility that is second to none.” She credited Dale Collier of Brownstone Construction Company, who was employed by the district, to oversee the projects and the construction companies for “bending over backwards” to help a poor rural district like Bamberg, to be “conservative” and yet not compromise anything when it came to the expense of the children.

“Our children don’t deserve any less than any other children in the state of South Carolina,” she said.

The spacious new cafeteria at RCES will hopefully cut feeding time because it seats “significantly more children.” The superintendent noted the technology in the new school is “21-first century” and includes: smart boards in each classroom, two full computer labs, each teacher will have a desk top computer and two or three computers in each classroom for students to use. The school will also feature a science lab and a spacious new library. “I couldn’t have wished anything could’ve been done differently,” Schwarting noted. The new RCES will be fully staffed along with two nurses, two guidance counselors, a principal, and an administrative assistant.

Schwarting said she recognizes there were some people in the district that were not in favor of the renovation and construction projects, because of the increased taxes, but she hopes they will come to see the focus is on the children of the district. “That’s what it’s about, it’s for our children,” she said, adding “it’s not for me or the teachers, it’s for our kids. That’s what I hope people can come to terms with.”

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