School Board casts split vote and approves moving forward with early steps toward new 6th-grade campus

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By Vicki Brown

The Colleton County School Board met in a special-called meeting on Monday, October 25 to discuss architectural drawings and its plans for a new sixth-grade academy campus near Colleton Middle School.

Superintendent Dr. Vallerie Cave spoke to the board about the architectural and engineering designs, giving a financial estimate for the cost of the project.

“From the scope of the work, we are looking at an estimated cost of $426,100 for the design services to renovate the existing facility and architectural services for the building,” said Cave. “This doesn’t mean the facility will be up and running; it allows the opportunity for us to see if this is a feasible plan. Whether we continue with the project or not, we will have the drawings for future plans,” she added.

The school board was presented with the architectural plans to review and given time to ask questions of Cave and Kenny Blakeney, director of building and grounds. Blakeney stated that this was not the total cost for the project.

“This $426,000 is not the final cost. In addition to the architect and engineer fees, the other costs will eventually be added such as landscaping, food service and technology,” Blakeney said. “In total, the amount will be approximately $501,480.”

The price was preapproved by state pricing mandates.

School Board member Sharon Witkin admitted that the board had been forced to rescind a vote from the previous week due to confusion among the members. “I want to be as clear as possible. The action of the board speaks to the action of the district,” said Witkin. “We need to be clear as to what the next step will be in this process.”

The board then determined that a request for proposal (RFP) was necessary before the architectural designs could be approved. An RFP is a business document that announces a project and solicits bids from qualified contractors to complete it. This will take 30 days to complete.

A motion was made to hold the approval of the drawings until an RFP was completed: school board members William Bowman, Mary Jones, Patricia Simmons, Charles Murdaugh and Harry Jenkins voting in favor of the motion, while Sharon Witkin and Tim Mabry voted against it.

Witkin stated that she had reservations about constructing the sixth-grade academy and that led to her negative vote.

School board approves purchase of metal detectors

Dr. Cave went on to tell the board that she needed approval to purchase 12 metal detectors at a cost of $3,750 each for a total cost of $48,000. The district has six now, but wants to add more for the safety of the schools and district office.

The board voted unanimously for the purchase of the additional metal detectors using 8-percent of the federal funds allocated to the school district.

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