RICHLAND COUNTY, SC A — new school may be on the horizon in the Chapin area.
Lexington-Richland 5 officials are looking at opening the facility in fall 2015 for seventh- and eighth-graders to ease what superintendent Stephen Hefner says is overcrowding in some classrooms on the north shore of Lake Murray.
If the proposal is approved by the school board, the current middle school in the community would become home to fifth- and sixth-graders.
Both the existing middle school and new facility would have about 800 students each, officials said.
The plan has many advantages, Hefner said in a written report to the board:
• Attendance areas for elementary schools would remain the same, avoiding friction that traditionally surrounds any changes.
• It would reduce portable classrooms at three schools from 82 to 10.
• There would be extra space to handle a small enrollment increase expected in a few years.
Hefner is searching for a site and a way to pay for the new school, the cost of which is not yet known. It will be a smaller version of a $35.2 million facility for 1,200 students put on hold a year ago.
Lexington-Richland 5 already owns tracts in the Spring Hill area along Broad River Road near a new high school and technical education center.
Money for the new school could come from a mix of sources, officials said.
One likely source is a surplus of unknown size expected from a $243.6 million bond issue approved by voters in 2008 for new schools and renovations.
It’s unclear how soon the board will decide on the proposal.
Some school leaders like Hefner’s idea while waiting to see if it is affordable and practical.
The plan is “trying to be creative” in catching up with pockets of growth, board member Ed White said.
But board member Kim Murphy wants to look first at “other options for how to best utilize our facilities” before adding more..
The push for the new school stunned some skeptics of Lexington-Richland 5 operations.
“I thought it was history,” said Ed Yates, who ran unsuccessfully for the board a few weeks ago. “It’s amazing.”
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.