DARLINGTON, S.C. -- A $60 million building program has three new public elementary schools going up in the Darlington County School District.

Work is underway on new schools in Hartsville, Darlington and Lamar.

The three new schools will consolidate and replace two smaller, aging schools in each of those communities.

Darlington County voters approved a one-cent sales tax to fund construction of the new schools at a total cost of $60 million in a referendum in 2016.

The new schools, each of which will accommodate approximately 600 to 650 students, are expected to open in time for the start of the 2020 school year.

Darlington County School District Superintendent of Education Tim Newman, who became superintendent last year, said the new schools reflect a commitment by the school district and the Darlington County Board of Education to the future of education and children in Darlington County.

Newman said that for voters to approve the schools in a referendum demonstrates a commitment to children in the community.

“I’m so thankful to the voters of Darlington County,” Newman said. “It represents a commitment to kids and to education. It says that they understand that the future depends on our kids. It’s a commitment to the future.”

The new schools, Newman said, will provide 21 st- century learning capabilities to students.

But the sight of three new schools going up also sends a powerful message to the business community, Newman said.

“It says Darlington County is open for business, and education is going to be at the forefront of that,” he said.

One of the first considerations for businesses looking to locate in or expand in a community is the quality of the local schools, Newman said.

Darlington County Board of Education Chairman Warren Jeffords of Lamar echoed that sentiment.

“This is just the start,” Jeffords said.

He said the three new schools will facilitate economic growth in each of the communities they will serve.

“Anytime we build new schools, it’s always exciting,” Jeffords said.

He said building the new schools shows pride in Darlington County and will help promote economic growth in the county and in the three communities.

“This is a great day,” he said.

Construction of the schools is taking place simultaneously. Brownstone Construction Group of Columbia is the construction management firm overseeing the three projects.

District officials broke ground for the Darlington school in August and for the Hartsville and Lamar schools in February.

The new Hartsville school will consolidate and replace the aging Washington Street Elementary and West Hartsville elementary schools. The nearly 84,000-square-foot school will be built on 42.8 acres on Bay Road between Bobo Newsom Highway and Westwinds Drive.

The school will initially serve grades one through five with the capability of expanding for kindergarten in the future should district officials decide to consolidate the Southside Early Childhood Center. Core capacity at the new school will be approximately 650 students.

Lamar’s new school, which will be located across from the intersection of Country Club Road and Lamar Highway (U.S. 401), will combine and replace Lamar and Spaulding elementary schools. It will serve kindergarten through fifth grade.

The new Darlington school is being built on the site of the existing Cain Elementary School and will replace Cain and Brunson-Dargan elementary schools with kindergarten through grade five.

District officials have not yet named the new schools.

The Cain site was identified as the site for the Darlington school early in the planning process. A total of 19 sites were considered for the Hartsville school and eight for the Lamar school, according to district officials.

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