Bells Elementary at the heart of $10-million bond issue in Colleton County

By Ava

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) Bells Elementary in Walterboro is a modern school stuck in a 60-year-old facility. This November voters will be asked to approve a $10 million bond issue that includes a new Bells.

"Of course, we're in the main corridor of the building. This is the only part of the building that is enclosed," said interim superintendent Dr.Franklin Foster. "You can see our media center doesn't meet the current needs of a school."

The doors to Bells opened in 1954 as a high school and the building has had only had minor improvements since. He says the district spends what funds are available to simply keep the school functioning.

"It's rough when you're looking at our restroom that our students are in right now," said Foster.

Foster says the lack of upgrades over time to the main building means all bathrooms are outside of the main building and that's just one major change if the bond referendum is approved.

"We think it's time to at least give the voters the option to say yes or no," said Foster.

He says the issues at Bells are mounting. Most recently the district sold all of the school's portables because they weren't up to code.

"Because of new requirements from the OSC -- office of school facilities -- we've had to not utilize, either upgrade portables or not use them," said Foster.

The majority of the bond would go to the demolition and reconstruction of Bells. The rest of the money will go to district-wide security upgrades and technology initiatives.

If the bond is passed, the average cost to the average $100,000 homeowner in Colleton County would be just $20 more a year.