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Aiken School Board swears in new members, gets update on construction projects

November 15, 2018

Four new members of the Aiken County Board of Education and one returning member were sworn in Tuesday at the board’s regular meeting.

The Board also elected a new vice chairman.

Dr. Sean Alford, the superintendent for Aiken County Public Schools, administered the oath of office to new members Jason Crane, who represents Beech Island, Jackson, New Ellenton and Windsor; Barry Moulton, who represents Belvedere and part of North Augusta; Brian Silas, who represents Beech Island, Clearwater, Bath and Langley; and Dwight Smith, who represents Langley, Gloverville, Warrenville, Graniteville, Vaucluse and part of Aiken.

Returning member Rosemary English represents Vaucluse, Eureka and Aiken.

Keith Liner is the board’s new vice chairman. Past vice chairman Tad Barber became the board’s chairman, by board policy, after former chairman Levi Green was not re-elected in last week’s election.

Dr. Shawn Foster, the district’s chief officer of Operations and Student Services, updated the board on several construction projects.

Ceiling tiles will start going up soon, windows are in, lockers are being installed and painting has begun on the Phase 2B addition at North Augusta High, Foster said. Substantial completion is expected this month.

The board approved a bid for the demolition of an existing classroom building at North Augusta High and site work to allow the construction of the Phase 3 addition, which includes fine arts and athletic facilities, to begin.

The budget needed is $620,828 to demolish the main building and prepare the site for the Phase 3 addition.

Painting also has begun in the Phase 2B addition at Aiken High, Foster said. The addition will include an auxiliary gym and classrooms for JROTC, art and culinary.

“It’s exciting to see the hoods going in the culinary arts room,” Foster said. “It was funny. The gentleman who was doing the installation also did the kitchen in our first phase. He said, ‘You know there’s more kitchen equipment in this room than there is in the cafeteria.’ It just goes to show what we’re putting in for our kids to learn on the academic side is just as important as what we’re using to serve our kids lunch every day.”

Substantial completion on the Aiken High Phase 2B project is expected by April 2019.

Smith asked Foster about plans for the new auditorium at Aiken High to be built in the next phase of construction. He said several of his constituents had heard the district would not build the auditorium

Foster said the auditorium is being designed and will be part of the next phase of construction in 2023-24. He said the auditorium is part of the district’s five-year plan and will be funded with 8 percent funds, which the district uses for construction.

Construction has begun on the new Ridge Spring-Monetta High. The district broke ground for the school in August. Substantial completion is expected in December 2019.

“Ridge Spring-Monetta is going extremely well. The project superintendent said they are slightly ahead of things,” Foster said. “If we can get some good weather, then we can find ourselves moving more strategically toward completion of that project.”

Foster said that “right now we are on budget and on time with all projects at present.”

Foster presented the final construction status report on the new Aiken County Adult Education Center on Jefferson Davis Highway in Graniteville. The center opened in August.

“We are in that building, and we are projecting to come in under budget,” Foster said. “The digital sign will be installed shortly as soon as we can get some good weather.”

Representatives of AECOM made the final installment of $100,000 of $300,000 for the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, programs at South Aiken High and North Augusta High, which are Advanced Placement academies. Silver Bluff High also has a NMSI grant from Centerra-SRS to expand the number of students who take advanced math, science and English courses and prepare them for post-secondary success.

Alford said the S.C. Department of Education has postponed the release of the new school report cards to Nov. 29. The report cards were to be released Thursday.

Jeannie Glover, the district’s chief instruction officer, announced the district will start a new evening program for 4K students in January.

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