Bamberg 2 schools to receive $38M loan

Bamberg School District Two is eligible for a $38 million federal loan for construction of a new K-8 building and athletics stadium. The loan is also to be used for renovations at Denmark-Olar High School and the district office.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development has approved the loan to be repaid over 40 years at 2.75 percent interest, Congressman James E. Clyburn announced Wednesday.

“At the request of officials and representatives of Denmark-Olar School District, I was pleased to work with USDA in support of their application,” Clyburn said. “Schools are the anchors of our communities and provide the foundation our children need to secure a productive future.”

Superintendent Dr. Thelma Sojourner said the district is excited about the loan approval.

“For several months we’ve been working on this with Congressman Clyburn’s office and the USDA through negotiations to secure this kind of loan, but we still have to get the bond referendum passed on Nov. 8,” she said.

If the referendum goes through, the interest rate and long-term payment option will make it easier to repay the loan.

Sojourner said she’s optimistic that the bond referendum will pass.

Bamberg Two’s schools are some of the oldest in the area and are in poor repair. The district has been looking for a way to renovate or replace them for a number of years.

The elementary school was built in 1954 and the middle school in 1957, Sojourner said. All three facilities leak — even the high school, which was constructed in 1994.

The elementary school leaks profusely, she said. “About five years back, a portion of the cafeteria fell in. It took about five days to get that repaired.”

The middle school gymnasium is leaking, Sojourner said. Last year, a beam fell in the gym during school time.

The older facilities are still heated by boilers, she said. A new one was put in the elementary school last year. There was a situation where the air conditioners were running and the windows were open at the same time because there was no way to control the heat.

A rebuilt boiler was installed in the district office this summer

“We hope to have heat this winter,” she said. “We didn’t have much last winter.”

“If the bond passes in November, we hope to get started as early as January,” Sojourner said. “Construction will take about three years.”

Sojourner said she isn’t sure how much millage will go up if the bond passes.

At an earlier meeting, architect Tim Williams said the proposed construction calls for connecting the wings of the new K-8 to the high school in a way that will cause it to look like one continuous building.

In addition, a new athletic stadium will be constructed that will seat 1,500. The high school locker room and gym will be expanded.

Existing athletic fields and support buildings will also be renovated.