It’s been a longtime coming, but construction is underway in the Georgetown County School District. After years of planning, all four Georgetown County high schools will receive a makeover to their gymnasiums and athletic facilities.

In each of its high schools and the Waccamaw Intermediate School, new auxiliary gymnasiums are in the process of being constructed and renovated. However, due to permit issues, the auxiliary gym projects at Carvers Bay and Georgetown High were temporarily halted.

In addition, the weight rooms at Andrews High, Carvers Bay High and Waccamaw High will be expanded to meet the needs of the students, with the Georgetown High weight room already relocated and renovated last summer by school staff and facilities personnel.

According to Ray White, spokesman for the school district, these renovations and improvements are a part of 5-year $165 million plan voted on during a November 2016 bond referendum, and the first two years were dedicated to the planning and designing of these renovation projects.

As renovation proceeds, many of the projects are highly visible, whereas some projects have gone unseen.

“Really, in the first year, there were a lot of planning,” White said. “A lot of work was going on, but not things that you can see. That’s where we are. We’re in year two of that five year cycle.”

White said the purpose of these projects is to keep facilities in tip top shape for present and future use, comparing the renovations to that of a housing project.

“Even with the new schools, you get 18 to 20 years on them, and if you don’t do maintenance on them, you’re going to be in a spot where it’s like a house; there’s going to have to be maintenance done on them,” White said.

In 2015, the district hired M.B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc., to administer a facilities assessment where district, facilities and school personnel were all present.

Lisa Ackerman, the district’s director of bond referendum construction and procurement, said construction management walked through each school in the district to assess its needs in order to act accordingly before the bond referendum. In 2017, another walk through took place, to determine whether the renovations were still needed. The district decided to move forward with all construction projects.

Ackerman, said the schools were engaged in each step of the process as the projects moved forward.

Needing outside assistance to take on the renovation projects, the construction firm was also hired as the project manager. They were hired through a competitive bidding process during the November 2016 bond referendum, where the public voted on the $165 million project.

In addition to the new auxiliary gyms in each high school and intermediate school, the five-year renovation plan includes adding four additional classrooms including a new band room, dining area, science labs, as well as weight room expansions to Andrews, Carvers Bay, and Waccamaw High. There are also roof replacement projects and new wireless systems in the process of being installed throughout the district.

“We knew we needed the new classrooms, we just didn’t have the funding prior to that. It was certainly identified and brought to the original plan,” Ackerman said.

Architects and engineering firms were hired to assess and give estimates during the facilities walk-through process.

Ackerman said she and the district are excited and grateful to finally see their work coming into fruition after years of planning and assessing.

Project Director of M.B Khan Construction Co. inc., Robert Serbire, said all projects are on time and on budget. Despite the minor one week setback Hurricane Florence brought, each project is due to be completed in the Fall of 2019.