Fort Mill board OKs elementary site

FORT MILL -- Fort Mill's seventh elementary school will be built west of Interstate 77 on Pleasant Road, the Fort Mill school board unanimously decided Monday night.

The board voted to purchase about 20 acres at $85,000 an acre from Ruth Crook Adkins Family Ltd. Partnership. Total cost comes to $1.695 million rounded off, according to Pat Puthoff, district assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

The site is on Pleasant Road between S.C. 160 and Gold Hill Road, across Pleasant from Whitley Road. The woodland slopes and contains no wetlands, according to Jim Britton of Southern Management Group, the district's planning and construction consultant.

The board voted with little discussion.

"We've been discussing this for several months, and I'm glad we've come to this point," said Jan Smiley, newly elected board chairwoman. Smiley, who was vice chairwoman, was elected Monday to replace Martha Kinard. Diane Dasher was elected vice chairwoman.

The school district will pay for the site, design and construction with part of a $70.3 million installment purchase plan loan it took in December. An IPP is similar to a long-term mortgage.

Site preparations already are being made for the district's sixth elementary school, also funded through the IPP. It is beside the new Nation Ford High School. The site is large enough to also accommodate a middle school.

In March, school district voters will go to the polls to vote on an $87.25 million bond referendum that would build two more elementary schools and a middle school. The ballot's second question also asks for about $8.72 million for an additional gym at each of the high schools and a stadium at Nation Ford High.

The district also has begun work on a new wing for Nation Ford, which opened this year.

The S.C. Department of Education considers Fort Mill to be the fastest-growing school district in the state.