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The Calhoun County School Board has purchased property in the Sandy Run community to meet future needs as the area continues to grow.

"Though there are no immediate plans to build a school, there are signs of growth in the Sandy Run community," Calhoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Wilson wrote in a prepared statement.

"No one knows when this growth will materialize, but the board has chosen to be prudent and proactive in their purchase of the Sandy Run property,” he said.

The 51-acre property is located at 9197 Columbia Road near the Prevatte Road intersection. It has a Swansea address.

The property was owned by Dorothy Swails. She purchased the property in March 2011 for $185,000, according to the Calhoun County Register of Deeds office.

According to the property records, the school district purchased the property on Nov. 26 for $254,750.

"Land is not getting any cheaper and should the need arise for a new school, obviously, land would be a necessity for the project," Wilson said. "If the need never materializes, the property could be sold for market value. However, if student growth becomes a reality, the board has committed to the planning of any new facility being able to serve all students across the district."

The purchase was approved by the school board during its Nov. 25 meeting.

Wilson notes the property, “was vetted before purchase by all the required state agencies and others for suitability to build a school, if the need arises.”

In his statement, Wilson says the district envisions a specialty-type school along the lines of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math school that would allow the district's existing high school students to enhance their course offerings.

Wilson said a new facility could also house career courses. Currently, the district has to outsource student career courses to another school district.

An April 2019 study of the Sandy Run area done by J. R. Wilburn and Associates projects population and employment characteristics through 2045.

"An interesting take-away from the study was that Sandy Run is projected to add 4,080 people, 1,700 new dwellings and the population to reach 6,504 with 2,800 new jobs added by 2045," Wilson writes.

Wilson notes the growth of the Tall Pines housing development off of U.S. 176. It currently houses several students who attend the Sandy Run School.

"Expansions for DAK and Devro are currently in place with expectations to further expand in the future," Wilson said. "Zeus has built another facility in Sandy Run, expecting to hire 350 employees. The county is expecting to announce another industry on the acreage around the DAK/Eastman facility. Columbia is expanding towards Sandy Run, by way of the 12th Street Extension."

He said the study is available for public review at the school district office.

"Our school board, like others, must have the vision and autonomy to plan for potential growth," Wilson said. "The purchase of this property was not an off-the-cuff type decision."

"Our community has always supported our vision for 'teaching and learning’ and ‘continuous improvement,’” he said. "This purchase of property is right in line with those visions."

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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