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‘Look, listen and learn’

Robbins reports to board on new school year preparations

Posted: July 12, 2018 4:06 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

New Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins (back row, far left) poses for an official photograph with the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees following Tuesday’s school board meeting. Board members include (front row, from left) Chaplain Derrick Proctor; Chair Dr. James Smith; Vice Chair Shirley Halley; and (back row, from left) trustees Todd McDonald, Ron Blackmon, Kim DuRant, Mark Sury, Matt Irick and Dr. Don Copley.

Part of preparing for the new school year, to begin Aug. 20, is figuring out security and safety issues at the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) new and existing schools. To that end, new KCSD Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins attended a recent county-wide work session involving school, first responder, government and other officials focused on school safety and security.

According to KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith, who also mentioned the meeting in a separate report to the board, work session attendees included three state fire marshals and a representative from the Office of School Facilities, which signs off on new and renovated schools for occupancy.

After thanking the board and the public for the chance to serve the community as the district’s new superintendent, Robbins said the security/safety meeting was “great.”

“It’s a one-team effort here,” he said, “and we all have a piece of that. The thing that I’ll constantly share to the stakeholders is that we understand, as a school district, that every single day, people get up and send us their most prized possessions -- that’s our students. Our number one priority is to make sure they’re safe once they’re in our hands and that we’re taking care of them, and then we’re going to educate them to the very best of our ability.”

Speaking to a point made earlier by Trustee Ron Blackmon regarding the need for security measures in district schools, Robbins indicated the district will look for resources, possibly including grants, to maximize efforts in that area.

“Because it’s a different day and age now. It’s not the way it used be, unfortunately, and we want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence,” Robbins said.

Smith, during his report on 2016 referenda construction projects, said he was “proud of the county” in terms of different agencies coming together to forward a “proactive movement” on security and safety in schools.

As he continued his report, Robbins mentioned that his younger son, Brandon, is getting ready to be a Kershaw County student, specifically, at Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS).

“(He) went to his first work-out session … and I want to share this because it’s important and we’ve got parents out in the crowd -- his statement to me today was, ‘There’s some really nice kids, Dad.’ He’s got that anxiety, he’s 16 years old, going to a new state, let alone a new school district. That’s refreshing and I think that says a lot about our community,” Robbins said.

Robbins said teachers will be back in their classrooms, preparing for students, on Aug. 15, and that student registration is set to begin July 25. District staff began preparing student letters to parents on Wednesday alerting them to the date and instructions for online registration.

The new superintendent also mentioned that the district office’s annual administrative retreat would take place a little later than usual precisely because he, himself, is in transition.

“I’m sure there’s a little anxiety,” Robbins said, noting that former Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan served the district for more than a decade. “The biggest thing that I’ve been sharing with people is that I do have a philosophy when I come into a new school district: ‘Look, listen and learn.’ I’m a simple guy, I like to keep it simple and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been walking around, I’ve been driving around, I’ve been looking, I’ve been listening to people. I’ve been meeting with as many people as possible, learning new things. We all have challenges.”

He said he recognizes that this is a county-wide school district with different challenges in different parts of the community.

“But we all have the same goal and that’s to provide the very best education possible to our students and preparing them for futures either here or abroad,” Robbins said. “We do have a lot of support in our community for our school district and we’re going to take this $135 million (budget) that’s being invested in the district and make sure we’re meeting that expectation and trust the community’s provided us.”

In related news, the district will hold a drop-in reception for Robbins from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday in the third (rear) building of the district’s offices at 2029 West DeKalb St. in Camden. Light refreshments will be served.

In his construction update, Smith reported the following:

• Woolard Technology Center (new ATEC) -- the roof is going up on part of the building, 100 percent of the building’s pad has been poured, and work has begun on a connector between Century Boulevard and Black River Road.

• North Central High School -- in addition to completing or nearly completing interior work, the new turf has been installed in the school’s stadium, of which Smith said “they could play on it today.”

• North Central Middle School (NCMS) -- the four-classroom addition is complete and ready for students to move into, with contingency money available for additional security measures for the school.

• Camden Elementary School (new) -- the exterior brickwork is complete or nearly complete and a cupola featuring a King Hagler weather vane created by David and Thomas Woolard of Midlands Tooling Systems Inc. in Lugoff has been placed atop the front of the new school.

• Lugoff Elementary School (new) -- a planned “learning well” near the media center is being transformed into a “reading area;” other work on the school is nearly complete.

• Wateree Elementary School (new) -- roof and exterior brickwork are being installed.

• L-EHS -- a completely new lobby is being constructed, with new security features, and should be ready by mid-August before students’ first day of school; a new parking area is being developed with access from Wildwood Lane; and the auditorium and gymnasium are being upgraded, also to be complete before mid-August.

• Zemp Stadium -- a final inspection of the new home-side bleachers and facilities will take place July 20.

• Leslie M. Stover Middle School -- pads have been poured for 4- and 2-classroom additions, and a fire lane extension is being created.

• Lugoff-Elgin Middle School -- space has been cleared for 2-classroom additions being placed at the end of each wing.

• Doby’s Mill Elementary School -- an addition there is being added adjacent to the existing kindergarten classrooms.

After giving his report, Smith moved on to an official request for the board to approve an amendment to the construction documents for the NCMS addition project. Trustees unanimously approved the request, which involves a $249,576 guaranteed maximum price from Hood Construction to add a fire lane to reach the additional classrooms, the construction of a security vestibule in the school’s lobby and the installation of a digital security camera system to replace NCMS’ existing analog system.

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