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Phase 2 meetings continue at NCHS

Posted: October 25, 2013 5:24 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2013 5:00 a.m.

There is only one more Facilities Equalization Phase 2 meeting before Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan presents feedback to the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees. The most recent of the Phase 2 public meetings took place Tuesday night at North Central High School (NCHS).

The board will vote on a final proposal before the end of the year and take it back out the community for final discussion, Morgan said. A Phase 2 referendum will be on the ballot in November 2014.

Morgan said that, by now, Kershaw County citizens should recognize that the district manages its money well. He said the district squeezed several projects including building a completely new elementary school and several multipurpose rooms/health facilities, along with numerous upgrades to several schools with Phase I funds.

Morgan said there will be a few more meetings with civic groups in November and that he is willing to present information to churches and any other interested groups throughout the month. 

Talking about specific schools, Morgan said the first time he visited NCHS, he thought it hadn’t been completed. Since then, the district used Phase 1 funds to build an auditorium and field house. Structurally, NCHS is in the best shape of all three high schools but, Morgan said, there are still improvements that need to be made. NCHS needs to brought up to code and has some athletic needs.

Morgan also pointed out that neighboring North Central Middle School (NCMS) has only one set of bathrooms.   

Staying in the North Central area, KCSD Executive Director of Operations Billy Smith said that Bethune Elementary School (BES) not only has various electrical issues and conduits that are out in the open, but also flooring and plumbing issues.

The late Leonard Price left the district 25 acres of land right next to NCMS, which Morgan said could become the future site of an elementary school for the North Central area students. He said all three North Central area elementary schools -- BES, Baron DeKalb (BDK) and Mt. Pisgah (MPES) -- can be combined, or just BES and MPES. If BDK is left open and the other two are combined, Morgan said, the school’s eventual closing is sure to be an issue if there is another economic downturn. Consolidating BES and MPES would leave about 100 students at BDK which, in general, is inefficient, Morgan said.

A person attending the North Central meeting said traveling time is an issue for some parents with children attending BDK. Smith said, however, that middle and high school students from that area have the same traveling time, however. He said the district could look into sending two extra busses to cut down on traveling time for those zoned for BDK, if all three schools consolidated. Morgan said the savings accrued by consolidating all three sets of students makes looking at extra “express routes” more feasible.  

A consolidated school would also give the North Central area a “seat at the table,” in regard to academics, extra-curricular activities and sports, Smith and Morgan said. With a consolidated school, the North Central area could have full time music and arts teachers as well as a full time guidance counselor, Morgan said. He also said the schools could have full time sports coaches.

Another person attending the meeting said that the simple fact that some North Central area students haven’t played supervised football until attending middle school hinders the team, which is something that could be addressed at a consolidated school. Smith said any discrepancy in the types and effectiveness of extra-curricular programs across the district are most likely due to numbers -- a matter of  “more kids, more programs.”

Morgan briefly went over issues at other district schools during the meeting. Morgan said the construction of Doby’s Mill and Pine Tree Hill elementary schools, and Lugoff-Elgin and Camden high schools, both failed the first time referendums were placed on the ballot. He said that if the district can’t get the new referendum passed, the district could “go on,” but would have to take money out of classrooms to help keep up with building issues. Morgan said it’s important for the Kershaw County community to know that they aren’t trying to build Taj Mahals or monuments of any kind, but renovation is not always the best option.

School Trustee Ron Blackmon attended the meeting to show his support for North Central area schools.

The last meeting will be held at Camden High School on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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