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Colleton County plans to turn annex building into 6th grade academy

The Colleton County School District has already put out a bid for an architect to take a look...
The Colleton County School District has already put out a bid for an architect to take a look at an old school property and propose design changes that can accommodate 450 students.(Live 5)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:11 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 11:47 AM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Colleton County School District is considering a plan to convert one of its empty buildings into a sixth-grade academy. The old annex building is located at 609 Colleton Loop and is expected to accommodate 450 students.

Superintendent Vallerie Cave says the building may need some redesign, but it’s got a lot of potential.

“It’s not going to cost as much as building a new building. That’s why it’s the right time to do this. We have this one-time funding that we can use for this,” Cave said, explaining how they plan to use ESSER funding to do the remodel.

Cave says the goal is to create a buffer grade for students leaving elementary school before they enter middle school. It’s a concept that has been used in other districts around the country.

A similar model is already in use at the high school via the ninth grade academy.

“That adolescent preparation is very important for them. It’s critical coming out of the pandemic. They need some very specialized time that they can socialize with their peers. I want that in a separate setting,” Cave said. “Sixth grade students need something different. They need something specialized. They need something focused on their social and emotional learning.”

The building needs more than a fresh coat of paint, but Cave says it could be ready sometime in the next school year.

“It needs substantial redesign. It needs some roofing. It needs some added space for multipurpose rooms,” Cave said. “It needs to be transformed into a space for children. . . It might not be ready at the beginning of the next school year but we could do a mid-year shift.”

The school board has approved a bid for an architectural firm to prepare a remodel plan, but until then an official cost estimate can’t be figured. Cave says the district was given $28 million in ESSER funds provided by the federal government that can be used for the project. However, she says not all of that will go toward the academy.

An architect may be hired by the end of the month.

Cave also says they may have to bring on a few extra staff members, but for the most part it will be staffed by current employees who will move over with students.

The plan is still in the works and the school board still has several opportunities to weigh in before final approval is given.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained footage of the wrong building set to be repurposed into a school. The address of the building featured in video was provided by the Colleton County School District, which later provided the correct address.

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