This summer, students’ work will be taken down from the walls and teachers will clean out their classrooms for the last time at two local school buildings.
Now, school officials must decide what should happen with the buildings. Administrators and community members don’t want them to remain empty, and the school district is on the hook for the costs of utilities and possible upgrades needed before they can be sold.
Sawmill Woods Elementary School, built in 1960, and Indian Creek Elementary School, with portions of the building dating to 1939, both will be closed at the end of the school year. Greenwood Middle School will be closed by 2018, once a new middle school is built on Averitt Road. Officials say the buildings are being closed due to years of wear and tear and the fact fixing them up would cost more than replacing them.
When school buildings are no longer used, school officials have to decide if they want to keep them, offer them to a charter school or local government or wait a required period before seeing if a business wants to purchase the site.
Story continues below gallery
For one of the buildings, school officials have plans for what will happen next.
Last year, Clark-Pleasant decided to close Sawmill Woods, which houses kindergarten and first-grade classes, due to needed repairs that could cost about $5 million, including a new sprinkler system, repairing exterior brick walls, replacing the roof and upgrading the heating and cooling system. The building can’t be expanded, and the school district needed to make room for a growing student population. Officials opted to reconfigure the grade levels by turning the intermediate school into an elementary school and moving hundreds of students through redistricting.
But officials want to keep the building, since the space still could be used. Options include using the building for a preschool or alternative academy or both, according to Cameron Rains, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. He said school officials have not decided what, if any, upgrades would be needed for those options and likely will make a decision in February or March.
Other school districts do not want to keep the buildings anymore.
Greenwood city officials already plan to purchase the current Greenwood Middle School property once the school moves out and demolish the building to make way for future downtown improvements.
Indian Creek Elementary School, which is being replaced with a new school, could be used by an organization other than the school district, Superintendent Tim Edsell said.
Teachers, staff and students soon will move into a 50,000-square-foot wing attached to Indian Creek Intermediate School that is under construction, leaving the current school vacant.
School board members have not discussed what to do with the current elementary school, since there isn’t an immediate need for the space. But Edsell said he doesn’t think the district would need the building, so another organization could do more with the building or land.
No resident or business has approached the school district about wanting the current building, but Edsell hopes someone will want the space in the future. Previously, school officials decided against renovating the building due to poor air quality, asbestos in older sections and inconsistent Internet connections. If someone wants the building, school officials will discuss what would need to be improved before selling it.
Trafalgar Town Council members want to see the building cared for and fill a need in the community, council President Jeff Eisenmenger said. He added he could see the school turned into a community center or senior citizen center.
Town officials are building a new park across the street from the elementary school and are improving Pearl Street with new pavement, sidewalks and streetlights. With the money the town is investing near the school, Eisenmenger said, he doesn’t want to see the building left vacant.
The town will make sure the building is maintained, the lawn is mowed, and the exterior doesn’t deteriorate, he said.
Here’s a look at three school buildings that will be vacant within the next two years:
Greenwood Middle School
When it will be vacant: Winter 2017 or early spring 2018
Why: A new three-story building will be built along Averitt Road, near Freedom Park.
What will happen to the building: The city of Greenwood is buying it and plans to tear it down so the land can be used for retail stores and restaurants.
Indian Creek Elementary School
When it will be vacant: Next summer
Why: A new elementary wing is under construction and will be open for use next fall.
What will happen to the building: No decision has been made by the school district, but officials do not plan to keep the building.
Sawmill Woods Elementary School
When it will be vacant: Next summer
Why: The school district is closing the building, reconfiguring their grade levels and turning Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School into another elementary school.
What will happen to the building: School officials are considering turning the building into a space for preschool or an alternative academy.