Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 has been making progress on various building projects, including the development of the new district office building.
The district purchased the former Community Resource Bank building at 102 Founders Court for $1.3 million in October 2016. It was appraised at $2 million, OCSD5 spokesman Bill Clark said.
“Following acquisition, work has been undertaken to: design the work spaces and public areas, add 32 additional parking spaces and resurface the existing parking lot, upgrade electrical systems and alarm systems to meet the current building code and ADA requirements and acquire office furniture,” Clark said. The total cost is $2.45 million.
The district will move in once the remaining electric system upgrades are complete and the final inspection is conducted, he said.
Clark said the move was necessitated by the age, condition and cost of maintaining the 85-year-old former school on Ellis Avenue, which is the current headquarters. The cost of renovating the building was estimated at more than $3 million.
“The building will become an asset of the new consolidated school district on July 1, 2019 and fall under the direction of the newly elected Board of Trustees,” Clark said. The county’s three school districts are being merged into one.
The building and other projects were recently discussed at an OCSD5 board meeting.
Expenses for many of the Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 projects funded by a previous general obligation bond have been paid, finance and operations head Donnie Boland said.
The bond generated about $10.1 million, with $75,000 in interest income added last year. Most of that amount has been or will be spent on various district projects.
The projects included:
• The new district office at about $2.5 million.
• The Orangeburg-Wilkinson sidewalk project with the S.C. Department of Transportation at about $134,000.
• Small athletic improvements at O-W and Bethune-Bowman at $39,700.
• New desks at Bethune-Bowman at about $40,000.
• Carpet in the O-W media center at about $29,000.
• Bethune-Bowman science lab at about $10,000.
• Roof repairs at Bethune-Bowman at about $6,000
Boland said, “The total expenses are $2,708,413.40 that we paid.”
Outstanding purchase orders are for completion of the new building at about $130,000 and security doors for schools at about $115,000, he said.
There are several other approved projects that are in the planning stages, including upgrades at Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The district will spend about $5 million on a new heating and air system for the school, $100,000 to replace the elevator and $600,000 on the gym roof.
At Howard Middle School, the district will spend about $600,000 on the gym roof.
It will spend about $250,000 on six sections of roofing at Clark Middle School, he said. At Clark, the original cost would have been $1.4 million, Boland said, but about $1.1 million of Abbeville lawsuit funds will be used for the project.
Expenses for the projects total about $6.55 million, with a balance of about $660,000 left over.
Two more potential projects – heating and air at the Brookdale Elementary and Dover elementary gyms – will require site visits before estimates can be determined.
In other business at the meeting:
• Trustees entered closed, executive session to discuss personnel recommendations. After returning to open session, the board voted to approve the recommendations of Robert Grant, head of human resources.
• Michelle Smith, counselor with the S.C. Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, addressed the board at the invitation of trustee Vernon Stephens.
Vocational Rehabilitation is a state program, but it’s federally funded, Smith said. Each state school district is assigned its own counselor, and Smith is the counselor for OCSD5.
Aiding students 16 and older, counselors work one-on-one with students and focus on “assisting individuals who come to us with barriers,” she said.
The goal is to help graduates find employment, she said, whether it’s immediately after high school or after graduation from a two-year or four-year college.
• Boland gave the minority vendor report. In the past year, the district spent about $9.5 million on services from vendors, and 4.3 percent of that was with 33 state-approved minority vendors.
“It’s a little bit better, percentage-wise, than the prior two years,” he said.
In the fourth quarter, $2.16 million was spent, with 5.9 percent going to minority businesses.
Trustee Samuel Farlow asked if Boland would be meeting with the financial heads of District 3 and 4 ahead of consolidation to discuss minority vendors.
Boland said he will be meeting with them to discuss that “and a host of other issues as well.” He added that the district has to mirror the state code and will continue to do so following consolidation.
• Boland reported that the Medicaid Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services program has shown a profit for the fourth year in a row.
• The board approved setting the millage rate for the coming year at 194.3 mills, the same as it has been for about a decade.
• Dr. Cynthia Cash-Greene, head of instructional services, said that the summer graduation ceremony was held Aug. 9, and 11 students graduated, seven from Orangeburg-Wilkinson, two from Bethune-Bowman and two from the High School for Health Professions.
She reported that in the summer reading program, 13 students didn’t meet the requirements for promotion to the next grade. The program started with 55 students, she said.
• Grant said that there were about 60 new educators at the district’s 2018 convocation kicking off the new school year. There were 18 vacancies. Four have been filled through contract services, and the district is working to fill the rest.
Superintendent Dr. Jesse Washington III said that the convocation was a “great day and a great kickoff” to the year.