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New schools to cost $5 million less to build

Posted: July 13, 2017 4:47 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Provided by the KCSD/

Before the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees voted on guaranteed maximum price contracts for three new elementary schools, Kershaw County School District Director of Operations Billy Smith updated trustees on other construction projects. Smith’s presentation included this new rendering of what the Applied Technology Education Campus will look like when its new facility is constructed at the joint Central Carolina Technical College/Kershaw County Economic Development site near I-20 Exit 98.

It will cost the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) $5 million less to build replacements for Camden, Lugoff and Wateree elementary schools than originally estimated. The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to issue three guaranteed maximum (GMP) price contracts to two firms to build the new schools for a total of approximately $56.49 million. The original estimates put the cost building the three schools at more than $60 million.

The schools are being built as part of an overall $129 million series of projects approved by voters by referendum in November 2016.

Specifically, Camden Elementary School (CES) will now be rebuilt for just under $18.82 million, Lugoff Elementary School (LES) for approximately $18.23 million and Wateree Elementary School (WES) for $19.44 million. The new LES and WES are being built next to the site of their current facilities; CES will be rebuilt at the former Camden Middle School site approximately a block away from the current school on Laurens Street. CES and LES will be two-story buildings, while WES will remain a one-story construction.

Eddie Rodelsperger, of Pike-McFarland-Hill Consultants, told trustees that WES will cost more to build than CES or LES for several reasons, including the fact that standpipes and fire hoses will be required in several hallways.

Contract Construction Inc. will lead construction efforts at LES and WES, while Thompson Turner Construction will head construction at CES.

Construction cost reductions of $1.5 million each for CES and LES are being realized by moving from a steel frame construction to load-bearing masonry and by changing from having fully adhered roofs to mechanically fastened ones.

The approximately $2 million in savings at WES also includes changing those two features, but also by reducing the amount of glass in the new school’s clearstories. Clearstories are the outside walls of a room or building that rise above an adjoining roof.

Also, KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith said WES will be built along an 8- to 10-foot “drop” toward Reclamation Road. Rodelsperger said that and the fact that the WES property is larger than the other two schools’ would make the site work cost approximately $500,000 more than at CES and LES.

Each GMP contract includes a 2.5 percent contingency fee. Rodelsperger said any unused portion of those funds will be returned to the district. However, as he said several months ago when he and Smith said cost estimates might be reduced by about $3 million, that doesn’t mean there will be money left over when construction is completed.

“Are we going to have money left over from these three projects to spend on another project? I’d have to say at this point in time, that I can’t promise you that,” Rodelsperger said.

At the same time, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said the news should alleviate any skepticism from before the 2016 election.

“There was some discussion as to whether or not the cost estimates were padded. They weren’t,” Morgan said. “These are right within what we suggested 15, 16, 17 months ago.”

In addition to the GMP contracts, Rodelsperger announced that the district will spend approximately $498,000 at each school for kitchen equipment. That cost will come from the food service funds, allowing the district to build the schools within its budget.

Ahead of Rodelsperger’s presentation and the board’s vote on the GMP contracts, Smith gave a short slideshow updating trustees on other referendum-related work. He showed pictures of North Central High School’s (NCHS) new electronic sign; work being done at NCHS on the school’s alarm and public address systems, as well as ceiling tile replacement; roof work to alleviate hallway rain issues at Lugoff-Elgin High School; work on Mt. Pisgah Elementary School’s new roof; LES, where the gym has been demolished and workers are taking up the foundation as well as moving utilities out the way so the new school will not be built on top of them; and a new rendering of what the Applied Technology Education Campus should look like when it is rebuilt at the Central Carolina Technical College/Kershaw County Economic Development Campus off U.S. 521 near I-20 Exit 98.

In other business:

• Morgan will bring to trustees at their next meeting an action item to approve partially funding a school resource officer (SRO) in response to a letter from Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns. Morgan said Burns noted council’s recent decision to set aside $25,000 to partially fund an SRO position in the city of Camden and asked for the city and district to contribute as well. Morgan noted the district had already voted earlier this year to include money to fully fund an additional SRO position in the county. He also pointed out that the school district asked for no millage increase for Fiscal Year 2018. Although Morgan first suggested the money to help pay for a Camden SRO could be found by trimming budgeted deferred maintenance, additional library books and remedial materials, trustees expressed a desire to pull the money from the district’s reserve. Morgan also suggested that the letter ask Burns for council and the board to begin meeting on funding student growth. Blackmon also said he feels that, ultimately, the district will have to decide exactly what a SRO’s job is if they are going to be fully or partially funding the positions.

• Chairman Ron Blackmon and Morgan are drafting a letter to all district employees in response to the recent district-wide survey. Blackmon said it would focus on issues such as pressure to vote in certain ways on school issues, pressure to participate in fundraising activities, opportunities for advancement, the impact of a rigorous standardized testing schedule, improvements among information technology (IT) staff and a desire among many respondents that trustees visit schools and other district work places more often. Morgan suggested the letter be sent out after employees “settle in” for the new school year.

• Morgan noted that the new school year will start for teachers in four weeks as they begin to prepare for students to return in five weeks on Aug, 17. He said kindergarten enrollment is now at 80 percent of projections. Morgan also said that he has six certified teacher opening left to fill. Following an executive session at the end of the meeting, trustees unanimously authorized him to offer contracts as needed to fill those positions.

• Morgan also said that KCSD Administrative Assistant Caroline Connare, along with as many people she could find to volunteer, would be stuffing envelopes with what are known as SNAP codes so parents can begin the process of registering their children for school online. Connare and the volunteers planned to start working Wednesday. The codes should be mailed out today, and the district’s Parent Portal will be reactivated Monday. In-person, or at-school, registration will take place July 26 and 27.

• In addition to authorizing Morgan to offer contracts to potential teachers, trustees also voted unanimously after the executive session to accept the administration’s recommendations on undisclosed employment matters (one of which the district revealed via press release; see “Gardner to be new principal at MPES). Trustees also used the executive session to talk about a potential contract with the county, but did not vote on or discuss the matter when they returned to open session.

The full board will not meet again during July. Its next meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. at the KCSD offices in Camden.

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