LEXINGTON 2

Major school upgrade proposed in Lexington 2

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 16, 2014 

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Lexington 2 needs two new elementary schools and extensive renovation of other facilities, an advisory panel told school board members Thursday.

The improvements would cost more than $200 million if all are accepted, Superintendent Venus Holland estimated.

Those recommendations are first step toward a referendum as soon as this fall on a property tax increase of an unknown size to pay for the improvements.

The upgrades are overdue at schools that are largely “senior citizens,” advisory panel member Mark Burt said.

Lexington 2 has 8,500 students in 16 schools – mostly built in the 1950s and 1960s – in Cayce, Pine Ridge, South Congaree, Springdale and West Columbia.

Key recommendations from the panel include:

• Two new elementary schools at undetermined sites, one consolidating students from Brookland-Cayce Grammar, Saluda River Academy for the Arts and Pineview Elementary while the other merging pupils at Taylor Elementary and Davis Early Childhood Center.

• Extensive renovation of Springdale Elementary and Fulmer Middle.

• Major repairs at all schools for problems like leaky roofs, outdated plumbing and electricity, inadequate ventilation, overcrowded cafeterias and insufficient digital technology.

“We’re asking to be bold,” advisory panel member Brad Giles told the board.

It’s the first package of improvements sought in Lexington 2 since 2002.

Some of the seven board members agree schools need significant updating.

The findings are “dead-on,” board member Linda Alford-Wooten said.

Board members will decide by summer on the size of a package and whether it will be submitted in a referendum this fall or later, chairman Bill Bingham said.

One consideration in seeking it this fall: the possible backlash that a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase that Lexington County may seek at the Nov. 4 polls could generate, he said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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