Lexington School District 3 classrooms are starting to show their age and need a facelift, a report commissioned by school leaders says.
The four schools in Batesburg-Leesville are well-maintained, but many features at facilities built between 1975 and 1999 are in line for major updating – soon – it said.
The upgrades are the first significant improvements proposed in 20 years for classrooms whose enrollment of 2,100 students is the smallest among steadily growing Lexington County’s five school districts.
“We know our buildings are getting older,” School Board chair Dr. Gariane Gunter said. “From the outside looking in, you’d never realize it.”
The high school, the oldest of Lexington 3’s four facilities, needs the most improvements, especially fire sprinklers, the report said. And “significant renovation” is needed within a decade at the performing arts center at the school, one of the newest facilities, the study added.
But some renovations suggested would be largely unseen. Those repairs are vital “to protect our assets,” Superintendent Randall Gary said.
Major steps recommended include:
▪ Replacing roofs, plumbing and ventilation systems.
▪ Making entrances and playgrounds more secure.
▪ Upgrading lights and wiring for technology and cost savings.
No new school is needed, the study said.
“Nothing is surprising, but there are some things I didn’t think about,” Gary said of the list.
Lexington 3 leaders are starting to develop a plan to make the improvements, with the price tag for the package yet to be determined.
It’s too soon, Gunter and Gary said, to know whether the renovations can be accomplished in stages, with current revenue, or whether they will require voter approval. Going to voters in a referendum could come as early as 2018, if the district decides it needs a loan that would be paid off with a property tax increase.
The last referendum in Lexington 3 was for $12.9 million in 1997 to build a middle school and a performing arts auditorium at the high school.
Sentiment is strong for keeping schools up to date, community leaders said.
“Schools have always been a source of pride and bring everyone together,” Batesburg-Leesville Mayor Rita Crapps said.
Lexington 3 is an area of small towns and farms on the western edge of Lexington County and an adjoining slice of Saluda County.
School leaders arranged the study by a team of consultants as a first step in making sure classrooms they once attended remain in step with the times.
“We want to stay ahead of the game,” Gunter said.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483
Key improvements suggested for Lexington 3 schools, all in Batesburg-Leesville:
High school: New roof, ventilation, plumbing, fire sprinklers, lights, ceiling tiles, doors, windows, entrance, faculty and visitor parking and additional wiring. Entrance, ticket booth, restrooms and concession stand at stadium.
Middle school: New roof (could be deferred), ventilation, plumbing, carpet, fencing, kitchen equipment, outdoor performance area, pickup and drop-off lanes, additional wiring and improved athletic fields.
Elementary school: Expand multipurpose room, new roof, ventilation, plumbing,carpet, fence, entrance, kitchen equipment, pickup and drop-off lanes, additional wiring, improved athletic fields, lane for fire trucks.
Primary school: New roof, ventilation, plumbing, lights, ceiling tiles, bathrooms, doors, windows, entrance, playgrounds, pickup and drop-off lanes, additional wiring, enclosed media center and relocated administration office.