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Skip Welch Construction, with a low bid of $431,155, has been chosen to renovate Branchville High School’s field house.

Larry Wolfe, superintendent of operations and planning, told the Orangeburg Consolidated School District Four Board of Trustees during a workshop this week that bids ran as high as $532,000.

The construction company is ready to begin work on a building that was previously used as a canteen, public restrooms and storage area. The canteen and public restrooms will still be used for those purposes while the storage area will be turned into a locker room, showers and a weight room.

The district plans to use other available capital funds for needed projects before the three Orangeburg County school districts consolidate into one district next year. At that time, all pots of money will roll over to the new district, as will all debts.

Two HVAC units will be installed in the gym at Carver-Edisto Middle School. Bids are currently out for them, Wolfe said following the meeting.

A steel filming stand for Edisto High School is in the works at an estimated cost of $100,000, he said. Most high schools film games from the top of the field houses, but that isn’t feasible for Edisto because of the way the press box is constructed, Wolfe said.

The board unanimously approved drawing up plans for an extension and renovations to the Edisto field house. Plans will be brought back to the board later in the year for further consideration.

Estimates are that the plans will cost up to $30,000 and the renovations an estimated $500,000, Wolfe reported.

The board also agreed to look at the needs of Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School for renovations to its field house.

In other business, trustees unanimously agreed to let the S.C. Department of Transportation use the Branchville-Lockett right-of-way to widen the road about 18 inches. New pipes will also be installed, Wolfe said. SCDOT will be putting up a silk fence to keep the soil from filling in the wide ditch in front of the school. There will be no cost to the district, Wolfe said.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Lana Williams reported the district had been awarded some manufacturing contracts and will soon be offering a five-week manufacturing class to adults in the evenings. The purpose of the class will be to help people who are currently unemployed find work, she said.

The class will be taught by a certified teacher from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, and there will be no charge to take it. More information will soon be available, Williams said.

She also reported the district is reaching out to students who graduated between 2013 and 2017 and urging them to take advantage of Palmetto Promise, which offers students from counties involved in the Abbeville County School District et al vs. South Carolina lawsuit a two-year degree free of charge.

In that case, the S.C. Supreme Court found the state had failed in its duty to provide a “minimally adequate” education in its poorest districts.

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