Limited consumption of beer and wine will be allowed at a community conference center included in a new complex that Richland 2 school officials will open in August.
A one-year test of the idea was approved by the School Board on Tuesday amid complaints from one member that it sets a bad example for students.
The fuss is over allowing alcoholic beverages to be served during events at the center, part of a new $41 million staff office complex that includes 20 classrooms for students will study business innovation there in short stints.
Civic groups who want to lease the conference center requested permission to serve drinks, officials said. The facility – including a new public library – opens this fall in the Village at Sandhill shopping center.
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The plan limits consumption to catered evening and weekend events as long as no students are present. No liquor is permitted and school officials will review each event before giving permission to have the beverages.
“It’s not open-ended,” board chairman James Manning said. “It’s a cocktail hour.”
Board member Monica Elkins opposed the step, saying it is “not true to that mission” of promoting responsible development of students. Elkins, who is in the middle of her four-year board term, is running for an S.C. House seat in northeast Richland County.
Richland 2 still bans alcoholic beverages in schools, but the new complex isn’t considered a school despite its classrooms, other board members say.
Security features will prevent meeting attendees from going into classroom space. Also, alcoholic beverages can’t be taken out of the center.
The plan evolved after requests came last fall from civic groups, Manning said.
“We put a lot of thought into it,” he said. “It’s something we feel comfortable with.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483