Down comes the old Wando

Demolition of the old Wando High School in Mount Pleasant is underway.

Demolition of the original Wando High School at Mathis Ferry and Whipple roads is well under way, clearing the nearly 46-acre site for what will become Lucy Beckham High School, the second public high school in the state’s fourth-largest city.

Next door to the old school, a former day care center on property owned by the school district has also been demolished. So has Unity Baptist Church on the next adjacent property, which the district purchased last year for $2.25 million.

Jeff Borowy, chief operating officer at Charleston County School District, said the additional land will provide space for parking and potential athletic facilities.

He said demolition of the old school should be completed by August.

Mount Pleasant’s Board of Zoning Appeals recently approved the school district’s request to use the former church and day care properties for temporary parking for the football stadium behind the old school, which is used by the current high school.

“The stadium will remain, and Wando football will be there at least through the (fall) football season,” Borowy said.

The “new” Wando High School, which opened in 2004 at the north end of town, is the state’s largest high school, with more than 4,000 students. Lucy Beckham High School is being designed for 1,200, but Borowy said the district may consider expanding it to 1,500.

“We’re working on site layouts and approval from the town,” he said.

The district hopes to award a construction contract in the spring and open the school in the fall of 2020. The project budget is $81 million. Attendance zones for the school have not been determined.

The project cost does not include the expense of building a new football stadium on a site that has yet to be determined. There’s an $8.1 million budget for a new stadium that would serve both East Cooper high schools.

Most recently, the early 1970s building that’s now being demolished was used to temporarily house other district schools that were being rebuilt or relocated to new buildings.

Lucy Beckham High School will house fewer students than the old Wando did, and will be a multi-story building, Borowy said.

“The higher we go, the more space will be available for athletics and parking,” he said.

The district is saving bricks from the old building and plans to use them as a fundraiser, allowing school boosters to purchase etched bricks that will be used to create a walkway. Details are still being worked out, said Borowy.

Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552 or twitter.com/DSladeNews.