Aiken County Schools are prepared for growth due to bond referendum passing

Monday, August 19, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- There are 15 school building projects in the works in Aiken County and with all this growth, comes demand.

Two of those projects are new schools going up here in the Highland Springs subdivision right off of I-20. But of course, the money has got to come from somewhere. The school system says they have it.

A new middle school, a new elementary school, and renovations to four existing schools totaling $90 million.

“We're thankful. We're very thankful that our community this past May voted and gave us a vote of confidence to raise the money to do the projects that we have,” said Dr. Sean Alford, the superintendent of Aiken County schools.

He's talking about a bond referendum that passed last year. It increased property taxes to raise the funds for these new projects. As Superintendent Alford says, they're much needed.

“We've seen enrollments be a challenge here in recent years and this year is no different,” said Alford.

Enrollment in Aiken County schools as a whole is on the rise. At New Ellenton Middle School, they've seen enrollment increase at least 40 percent. But, just like on the county level, the school says they've anticipated a lot of the growth.

“We had already secured two new teachers on staff, so we're blessed to have them. So we were already anticipating and we are ready,” said Shunte Dugar, the principal of New Ellenton Middle School.

The superintendent says thanks to the bond referendum and the continued support from the community, Aiken County schools are exactly where they need to be to prepare for all these new students.

“Will there be future needs? There will. But we certainly have enough on our plate right now to deal with and do in a way that garners the community trust that will allow us to raise the funds to do the future projects when it's appropriate,” said Dugar.

According to the Aiken County School System's website, the 6 projects passed in 2018's bond referendum are expected to be completed by 2022. For the full list of projects, click here.