City, FSD1, FMU partnership announced
Florence School District 1, Francis Marion University, and the City of Florence announced a collaborative effort on Feb. 3. The partnership included the renovation and redevelopment of the McClenaghan School building and the Poynor building downtown, as well as the Beck Early Childhood Education Center in Northwest Florence.
Adult Education and Florence School District 1 adminstrative offices will move into McClenaghan after redevelopment, and the school district will partner with Francis Marion University to provide curriculum programming and instruction for a magnet high school to be located in the renovated Poynor building. The early childhood education program will continue in the rebuilt Beck building.
No definite plans have been made for the current school adminstration building. The project is estimated at $12 million. The City will provide financing for capital construction through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) borrowing made possible by the school district’s agreement to extend the life of the TIF, said Mayor Stephen Wukela when making the announcement. The plans are subject to City Council approval, as well as the governing boards of the other entities involved.
Porter Stewart, chairman of the Florence School District One Board, said he was excited about this partnership with the City and FMU. “This is something that has never been done before,” he commented. Stewart noted that the Poynor School building is over 100 years old and the McClenaghan building is nearing 100. These buildings which were once “flagships” of the local educational community will have new life breathed into them, he said. He added that having a magnet school in Poynor will bring high school students back downtown again.
FMU President Fred Carter said the university is excited about being a part of what is happening downtown. Four and a half years ago, FMU came into the city with the Performing Arts Center, he said. “It was one of the smartest things we ever did as a university.” In about six months the new health sciences center will open, Carter added. “This magnet high school will become the third major area where I feel the university can contribute to the city, to its growth, to its revitalization.
I’m especially proud that involved an even stronger collaboration partnership with Florence District One,” he added. Once the plans and funding are approved, McClenaghan would be the first to be renovated so that Poynor can move in before renovations start there on that historic building. The entire project is expected to be completed in a five-year time period.