A new Lexington 2 elementary school is now planned for a different site than expected in West Columbia.
The district has bought a set of parcels opposite Northside Middle after concluding it would be a better location than another property it owns just west of Lexington Medical Center.
The board also decided a new arena will rise at Brookland-Cayce High after school officials acquired a 3.1-acre site in the 600 block of Knox Abbott Drive on which a Motel 6 sits.
The shift in the elementary school site comes after months of uncertainty over whether the original 38.6-acre site on Henbet Drive would provide a costly challenge to build classrooms for up to 1,700 students.
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Adding new roads and sewer service promised to be expensive. Some parents also complained about a multi-story facility close to busy U.S. 378 – and midway between I-20 and I-26 – that assured congested commutes.
“There were a lot of concerns about doing it there,” said Don Icenhower, Lexington 2’s chief operations officer.
The change means a new school for 1,300 pupils in kindergarten through 5th grades will rise on a 16.7-acre site on Cougar Drive, about a half-mile east of the hospital.
School board members late Thursday approved purchasing 12.4 acres to add to 4.3 acres the district already owns to become a new home in fall 2018 for students now at Brookland-Cayce Grammar and Pineview Elementary. Saluda River Academy, once a part of the merger plan, will be renovated instead and remain where it is.
The price of a school on the new site is estimated at $31.5 million compared to at least $35 million at the Henbet Drive location.
All improvements would be paid for by a $225 million package of renovations and new facilities approved by voters in 2014 to update schools thta are mostly 50 years old.
The site on Henbet would remain available for other projects, such as a fine arts auditorium or vocational education center included in that package.
Board members also named another new elementary school due to open in fall 2107 after Cayce, the community in which it sits near 12th and Taylor streets.