The old Beaufort County School District office â€" left vacant when the district moved to its present location in February 2010 â€" will soon get new life.
The district will move its adult education program, currently housed at the district office on Mink Point Boulevard, to the office at 1200 King St. in Beaufort for the start of the 2014-15 school year, according to chief student services officer Gregory McCord.
A cost for this move is not yet known, said chief operational services officer Phyllis White, but it should not have many associated costs.
Director of adult education Juanita Murrell said she's excited about the move because it means a larger space and "the opportunity to offer more classes to the community."
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The program provides classes to help students prepare for the GED and WorkKeys -- a job-skills assessment -- among others, and also is authorized to administer the tests.
Currently, the adult education program operates out of the district office and from more than 10 satellite locations throughout the county, including S.C. Works in Beaufort, James J. Davis Early Childhood Center and the Technical College of the Lowcountry.
With this move, the program's main site and offices will not have to share space.
Murrell said about 60 students are enrolled in the program at its present main site, which is at capacity, but they will be able to accommodate about 100 more in the new space.
Additional space likely means more sessions of the classes it already holds and the possibility of new ones based on specific job skills, Murrell said. The program also could offer more classes to teach computer skills and information technology, a skill in high demand, she said.
The program could also offer more dates for testing and designate an area for it to be conducted -- something that's difficult to do frequently at the current location because testing can interfere with classes taking place at the same time.
Another benefit of the new building is its location in downtown Beaufort, she said. This should make it more convenient for business partners to speak with students or offer classes of their own.
"This is an excellent opportunity, and gives individuals the opportunity to achieve a goal they have wanted to achieve for a long time," she said. "It will be like our very own school."
There will need to be some renovations to the King Street building before the new program moves in, White said. Murrell, White and superintendent Jeffrey Moss will take a walk-through of the building before the end of December to discuss the needed changes and prepare a plan, she said.
Murrell said she thinks this might involve knocking down a few walls to allow for some bigger classrooms. White said the renovations should be cosmetic changes that could be absorbed in the district's current maintenance budget.
The district plans to use the open space that will be created at the district office to expand the alternative education program housed there. Those are details that will be worked out in coming months, said board member and Student Services Committee Chairwoman Evva Anderson.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.