For 1-cent local option sales tax
By David Meade
During their meeting Tuesday, Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved a plan that includes spending $4.4 million for projects and upgradesto be made in the District each year over the next three years. Superintendent David Havird presented the Board with details for the projects which will be funded by the 1-cent Local Option Sales Tax.
The sales tax, which can only be used for capital improvements, was approved last November and went into effect in March of this year.
Havird said projects for Anderson District One will include: security and public safety; acquiring and/or updating technology hardware and software; repairing or replacing roofs and HVAC systems; constructing, improving or renovating instructional, fine arts and athletic facilities; acquiring student transportation vehicles.
The District expects to receive approximately $4.4 million per year in revenue from the 1-cent sales tax.
District One plans to use twenty percent of that amount, or $880,000 to reduce debt service which will result in a 4 to 4.5 mill property tax rollback. According to Havird, estimated collections are running more than expected. If they continue, property owners may see a 5 mill to 6 mill property tax rollback, he said.
Estimated available funds for 2015-16 projects are $3,520,000.
District One’s priority is Safety and Security which is first on the list of improvements, according to Havird.
The District has budgeted $350,000 to $400,000 for safety and security enhancements at all fourteen schools. Improvements will include additional cameras, access doors and communication equipment. Havird said the District office and maintenance buildings will also be included.
The security upgrades will also include cameras at all three high school football stadiums.
The upgrades are in the bid process and work will begin in October or November, according to the Superintendent.
Havird said $800,000 is budgeted for technology hardware and software improvements and upgrades at all schools this winter (2015-2016). Havird said the District plans to replace 550 teacher and administrator laptops and purchase 14 or 15 new computers for labs.
Third on the list are visual and print upgrades in all 14 media centers. The improvements, scheduled to begin late fall, will include new computers and boards. Total budget is $560,000. “This will update our media centers for the future,” Havird said.
When asked by a board member if the District is using 3D printers, Superintendent of Instruction Jane Harrison said, “We are moving that way.”
“There is a lot of excitement in the media centers,” Havird said.
Also on the list for fall and winter 2015-16 are roof improvements at Palmetto Elementary, Palmetto and Wren Middle, and Palmetto ahd Wren High Schools. The District has budgeted $150,000 for roof work, which is currently out for bid.
This fall, District One will also provide funds for new welding equipment at the Career and Technology Center. District One will contribute $75,000 to the program while District Two will contribute $25,000, for a total upgrade of $100,000.
The District plans to upgrade Band and Fine Arts and Physical Education equipment for all schools in the Spring of 2016. $373,400 is budgeted.
The District has budgeted $20,000 for production technology equipment for elementary schools; $25,000 for middle schools and $30,000 for high schools. Total budgeted is $325,000.
Late spring and summer the District plans to purchase equipment and upgrade Science and STEM labs for Elementary, Middle and High schools. Budgeted is $400,000.
Also in the spring, the District plans to purchase new activity buses for extracurricular events. Budgeted for a large bus is $122,000 and for a small bus, $42,000.
Havird said the District will order the vehicles by mid year and expect them to arrive by March for spring activities.
Havird said the proposed plan includes a contingency amount to allow for extras in equipment accounts and for specialized equipment.
District One is also providing funding, along with other Anderson County School Districts, to help at the Alternative School.
Havird said they are evaluating the purchase of new band uniforms. According to Havird, Powdersville and Palmetto High schools have the newest.Wren has the oldest uniforms dating to 2002-2003. Estimated replacement cost is $25,000.
The district is also looking at going to 2 way radios instead of using cell phones.
Responding to a question about Wi-Fi in the schools, Havird said all schools and the District Office have Wi-Fi available, primarily in the buildings. It may be available outside for a short distance, he said. The District is also going to increase band use from 2 gig to 4 gig due to more use of technology and IPads.
“We are truly trying to spend our money to update our programs,” Havird said. “It is exactly what we told our voters we would do.”
For 2016-17 Havird said the district will focus on building projects and athletic faciltiy improvements. The projects will require the expertise of architects.
The largest project is a six room addition at Concrete at cost of $2.1 million. The project is scheduled for fall of 2016. The addition will include converting the gym to two kindergarten rooms, adding four new rooms and constructing a new gym. The school has 660 students enrolled.
In spring of 2017, Wren High tennis courts will be resurfaced and will get new nets. Powdersville High will have new courts built.Total cost is $400,000.
Summer of 2017, a new multi-purpose athletic facility will be constructed at Palmetto High at a cost of $1.2 million.
Spring and summer 2017, Wren High will get a new field house and weight room. Cost is $1.8 million.
The District expects to have approximately $1 million to carry forward which will be available to offset additional or unexpected costs.
“It will be a challenging year,” Havird said.
For 2017-18, estimated funds available for projects will be $4.5 million.
Instructional and Technology upgrades are planned for all schools, however Havird said the needs and costs are unknown at this time and will be evaluated later.
Fall and winter of 2017, the District plans to do stadium upgrades with new restrooms, new concession stands and handicap ramp for the visitor side at Wren High School. Projected cost is $900,000.
The proposed plan has $500,000 budgeted for HVAC improvements over the summer of 2018 which will be made as needed.
Havird said the District also plans to construct a connector road from the Powdersville Middle parking lot to Roe Road over the summer of 2018 to help relieve traffic congestion. Projected cost of the road is $550,000. “This will be a new experience for us,” Havird said.
Havird said the District’s digital Innovation Initiative will be in its fourth year and they will need to begin replacing the older technology.
The District uses Dell laptops for teachers and administrators and IPads for student learning. Havird said the systems are compatible and work well together.
Havird told the Board that the proposed projects in the plan can be changed or reevaluated if needed.
“We can be flexible with the plan to get the best instruction and facilities for our students,” he said.
The Board unanimously approved the proposed timeline and project plan.