A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday at a new Clover elementary school that officials say will change the way grades are split up in the district.
The new elementary school, located on Highway 321, will fit 750 students into a space that is about 11,000 square-feet larger than any other elementary school in Clover.
With the extra space, fifth graders will move back to the elementary level, and sixth-through eighth-graders will occupy a middle school that's still under construction on Oakridge Road.
Both schools, which are expected to open in fall 2009, are part of a 2006 $58.5 million bond referendum geared toward making room in crowded schools by providing more classroom space and keeping student-teacher ratios as low as possible. The district goal is 20 to 1.
"Part of our goal has been to keep the quality of the school excellent by not overcrowding them, so we're trying to stay ahead of the curve," said Wendy Bartee, who has been a school board member for more than 23 years. "The expensive part of keeping that ratio is hiring enough teachers and having classrooms to put them in."
Just over $20 million will be spent on constructing the elementary school, which will include practice fields for soccer and little league baseball and a traffic lane for parents to pick up and drop off students.
Other Clover elementaries, such as Kinard and Bethel, do not have land space for the stacking room the traffic lane will provide off 321, said Keith Love, chief finance and operations officer.
"We wanted to make sure it's as safe as possible for parents and students on the busy highway," he said.
Eco-friendly design also will be part of the package, including energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and appropriate insulation.
Light switches will work on motion detectors, and after the school is built, maintenance staff will use green cleaning chemicals safe for the environment.
"Not everything is green, but we're trying to be as green as we possibly can," Love said. "It's very expensive, and in our particular setting, payback was way too long in the future."
All classrooms will be equipped with interactive presentation devices such as promethium Smart Boards and other high-tech, hands-on learning tools. Similar technology was integrated into other schools in the district as part of the bond package approved in 2006.
Walls are up on the middle school, and public information officer Greg Reid said construction is coming along on time.
"The weather has been very helpful to us," he said.
The new site, which will be named later, is Clover's sixth elementary school.
"This school is an investment in the future of Clover," said superintendent Marc Sosne. "It has something that everyone can use. The return on the tax payers investment will be immeasurable."