SCHOOLS TO OPEN AMID CONSTRUCTION – KERSHAW COUNTY EDUCATORS TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT STUDENTS, EASE INCONVENIENCE

Back to school in Kershaw County this year means new students, new teachers — and new concerns about safety around major construction projects at a half-dozen schools.

As the Aug. 20 first day of classes approaches, the Kershaw County School District has five renovation projects and a new facility under construction at current school sites — part of its $102 million facilities upgrade plan.

“There will be some disruption, some dust and noise,” said David Smith, the district’s director of facilities management. “But at the end of the day, every facility and contractor will get the same message — that first and foremost, we are places of instruction, not construction.”

District officials are performing background checks on construction workers, discussing the construction projects with students and notifying parents about traffic changes.

More than 1,000 workers and site managers will work on the district’s construction projects over the next two years, and each one will undergo a background check before working with the district and will have to wear an identification badge while on site.

Individuals who have felony charges involving drugs or weapons or who have been charged with any crime against a child will not be allowed to work for the school district, Smith said.

The background checks are a great way to protect students, said Dan Matthews, principal at Lugoff-Elgin Middle.

“I don’t know these people, and they’re going to be in proximity to my students,” he said. “When the kids are away from their parents, I’m their parent, so it’s important to me that I can protect them.”

Staff at each school will discuss construction site safety with students on the first day.

“When we discuss what to do and not to do at school, we will discuss construction safety in great detail,” Matthews said. “Students will know there’s no reason why anyone should be on a construction site.”

Security fences surround all ongoing construction at each of the sites, so students will not have access to those areas, he said.

The district will try to let parents know about traffic changes at their child’s school through messages and fliers and at

registration, held today and Tuesday at all the district’s schools.

Changes at schools under construction include:

— * Lugoff-Elgin Middle School — A new school is under construction next to the current facility, so parents will have to drop off students at a rear exit off Wildwood Lane instead of using the usual U.S. 1 entrance. The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office will direct traffic at the school on the first day of classes.

— * Camden High School — Parents will have trouble with traffic in and out of the school because of blocked-off areas for construction, principal Reggie Dean said, so “people will have to exhibit patience and slow down.”

— * Lugoff-Elgin High School — Concession stands and restrooms at the football stadium will be closed while new ones are built, so players and fans will have to use portable toilets.

— * Blaney Elementary — Students will spend part of the school year in 12 portables while all three wings at the school are overhauled, including a new heating and air conditioning system, floor tiles and paint.

— * North Central High School — Students in the Kershaw school will have to park in a field next to the school until Labor Day, when a paved lot is finished.

— * Midway Elementary — Students in Cassatt will have gym class in a classroom until their multipurpose gym room is completed in August 2008. Their old gym is being demolished.

Each week, construction managers and district officials will meet to discuss potential problems and go over individual school schedules, including when testing will occur so construction workers can keep noise to a minimum those days.

“Construction is a sign of progress, and the district is going to have some facilities that far exceed what we have today,” Smith said. “But in the process, progress comes with pain.”

Reach Riddle at (803) 771-8435.

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KERSHAW COUNTY SCHOOL PROJECTS

The Kershaw County School District is building two new schools and renovating five.

BLANEY ELEMENTARY

— * Overhaul of three classroom wings with new paint, heating and air conditioning system and floor tiles. Scheduled completion: December 2008

CAMDEN HIGH

— * New auditorium, field house, auxiliary gym, wellness center, track and cafeteria addition to begin in December. Scheduled completion: November 2008

CAMDEN MIDDLE

— * New facility to be built on some 29 acres on Hasty Road, a few miles from the current site. Scheduled completion: March 2009

LUGOFF-ELGIN HIGH

— * New auxiliary gym, locker rooms, wellness and training room, new public restrooms, concession stand and bleachers. Scheduled completion: October 2008

LUGOFF-ELGIN MIDDLE

— * New facility built on current site. Scheduled completion: November 2008

Other projects include North Central High School in Kershaw and Midway Elementary in Cassatt.Caption: (1) by LINDSAY SEMPLE/LSEMPLE@THESTATE.COM – Ralph Edwards with Cayce Co. Inc. backfills around plumbing at site of new Lugoff- Middle School. The facility is scheduled to open in November 2008. (2) by LINDSAY SEMPLE/LSEMPLE@THESTATE.COM – Carlos Molina and Emanuel Jimenez with Unistar Builders work on the new facility being built on the site of the current Lugoff- Elgin Middle School.

August 6, 2007  State (published as The State) 
 Columbia, South Carolina
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August 6, 2007  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 15

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