Fort Mill Times

Update: Construction, calendar issues on Fort Mill School Board’s radar

Construction is underway to expand Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools. The district will build a third high school, now that voters approved funding in the most recent referendum.
Construction is underway to expand Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools. The district will build a third high school, now that voters approved funding in the most recent referendum. JEFF SOCHKO

Fort Mill School District leaders are taking hard looks at their calendars.

In addition to playing beat-the-clock on major construction projects, the school board has to decide whether or not to accept an offer from the state to forgo one day of classes to make up for a snow day this past winter. Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill May 7 that forgives districts that have used up all their allotted weather cancellations and would fall short of the required number of school days. There are caveats: Districts that don’t make up lost days need to have exhausted their snow days and their school boards have to vote unanimously to accept the offer.

This is only applicable to the 2014-15 school year. There’s other legislation that addresses similar issues in 2015-16.

Fort Mill’s school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether or not to skip the make-up day. If the board decides to extend the school year, the district must decide when to make up the day.

“We have some options,” Superintendent Chuck Epps said.

Some options are: to add a day at the end of the year or extend two scheduled half days to full days to end the semester. An informal poll of principals at the meeting showed adding a day might be better for high schoolers, but not elementary schools.

Thoughts were that high school students would or would not come based on when exams and requirements are finished, regardless what the calendar says. Elementary school principals felt like students will stay if the half days are extended, but many families won’t bring them for the added day.

Patrick White, board chairman, was one of many hopeful that the state would forgive the day and it wouldn’t require rescheduling.

“It doesn’t really make sense to add another day running the buses and running the AC and going through the motions and spending the money, when testing is already over,” he said.

Capital projects

Construction calendars are tight, with several projects expected to be completed prior to the coming school year in August.

“We’re going to make the August date,” said Jim Britton, with project manager Cumming Corp.

Expansions to both of the district’s high schools were approved in a 2013 bond referendum. Fort Mill High School will be the most dramatic.

“It is the most complex,” Britton said. “It is the one that’s going to be down to the wire.”

The school is getting a new administration building, renovations at Bob Jones Stadium, access and drainage improvements, parking and a conversion of the former Riverview Elementary School next door into high school space. The district contracted work at just more than $17 million.

“We really are touching every area of the site,” Britton said.

A 12-foot retaining wall is being installed at the new entrance on Highway 21 Bypass.

“It is a lot of soil we’ve had to move and relocate, and there’s still a lot we have to move,” Britton said.

Nation Ford High work includes new classrooms, a mini gym, an LED sign and commons area expansion. Nation Ford’s expansion is an $11 million project.

Britton said work will be done at Nation Ford on or before July 29.

John Marks •  803-547-2353

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