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KCSD holds first Phase II public meeting

Posted: September 26, 2013 5:37 p.m.
Updated: September 27, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Miciah Bennett/C-I

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan addressed the community and KCSD personnel concerning Phase II of the Facilities Equalization Plan at public meeting at Lugoff-Elgin High School. The district will hold two meetings in each area of Kershaw County throughout the next month in order to formalize a referendum by January of next year.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) held its first in a series of public meetings on Phase II of its Facilities Equalization Plan at Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS) Tuesday evening. KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said he thinks the district has proved it knows how to manage money and time with all of the extra projects it completed that were not originally a part of Phase I.

In Phase I, the district made a partial HVAC upgrade at the Applied Technology Education Campus; completely renovated Blaney Elementary School (BES); made drainage and window replacements at the old Jackson School; built new athletic facilities and auditorium at Camden High School (CHS); built a new Camden Middle School; built a new Lugoff-Elgin Middle School (L-EMS); built new athletic facilities at L-EHS and  replaced the roof, made HVAC upgrades, painted and re-paved the L-EHS Annex; made a complete renovation and addition of an art room, music room, multipurpose room and rest rooms at Midway Elementary School; and built a new athletic facility and auditorium at North Central High School (NCHS).

In addition to those original projects, the district was able to take on several additional projects thanks to Director of Operations Billy Smith and Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson, Morgan said. The bidding environment was also an important factor, as the district did solicited many bids after the economy changed in 2007, he said.

The district built a new Jackson School as a “green school,” in addition to opening two health and wellness buildings at Leslie M. Stover Middle School (LSMS) and North Central Middle School (NCMS). It also completed a number of miscellaneous projects including: adding six new classrooms and expanding the media center at Bethune Elementary School; paving and fencing at NCHS; make field renovations at LSMS; moved into another district office facility; added new ventilation systems at ATEC; added new stadium lights at L-EHS and placed the old ones on the L-EHS and NCHS practice fields; bought new science tables at NCMS and LSMS; landscaped Lugoff Elementary School; and added wells to existing irrigation systems at seven of the district’s schools.

Morgan mentioned past referendums that have failed in Kershaw County including a referendum that ultimately allowed the district to build the current L-EHS and CHS facilities for $35 million. After failing that first time, Morgan said, the district decreased the cost and voters passed the referendum the second time around. A later referendum for the current Pine Tree Hill and Doby’s Mill elementary schools also failed on the first try, he said. 

“Why do referenda do badly here? People often don’t understand where it came from, what the logic is behind it and people feel like it was done on the side and then sprung onto the public,” Morgan said. “The process we’ve used is from the bottom up. Public support is critical -- we don’t want anyone to be surprised.”

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees looked at a study conducted by the Heery company several years ago to decide what each school needed. The district held more than 20 public meetings in 2012 to garner feedback on what citizens would like to see the district address in Phase II. In the past, people have said “no” to a referendum because of one or two items. That is why, Morgan said, the district is holding this series of are holding the public meetings: KCSD wants all the feedback they can get.

Morgan also said the district doesn’t want a Penny for Progress, where voters vote “no” because of two or three things they didn’t like. He wants people to know what the district is trying to do right now, so they won’t have any reservations when it’s time to vote.

Smith took attendees through a slideshow of the area schools and talked about the challenges each school faces. He added that Phase II proposals are “needs” not “wants.” Trustees will have a look at a formal proposal by next January.

District personnel who attended the meeting urged parent participation. In return, parents mentioned that the district should look at including more arts needs and the safety needs that will be addressed through Phase II construction.

Each participant received a handout listing all of the Phase I projects, frequently asked Phase II questions and a list of the Phase II referendum options/costs.

The district also held a meeting a Camden High School Thursday night. All of the following meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m.:

• Thursday, October 3: Baron DeKalb Elementary

• Tuesday, October 22: North Central High

• Thursday, October 24: Leslie M. Stover Middle

• Tuesday, October 29: Camden High

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