Lexington District One Board votes to pursue five-year building plan

Aug 07 2018

The Lexington County School District One Board of Trustees voted to pursue a $365 million five-year building plan to address rapid student growth after hearing a third reading of a facilities improvement plan, a reduction from the $393 million that the Facilities Study Committee recommended in first and second reading of the facilities improvement plan.

The board recognizes that Act 388 places an unfair burden on small business owners and over the last few months heard these concerns from small business owners, the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce and others. While the district has no direct control over Act 388, the board did the one thing it could do and directed administrators to reduce the impact of taxes on small businesses and the community while maintaining the overall integrity of the building plan.

The five-year building plan comes from the good work of a district-formed Facilities Study Committee made up of 115 business leaders, community members, parents, staff and students and includes:

• updated safety and security systems at all district schools and facilities;

• three new schools to replace old schools and increase student capacity; • two new elementary schools needed to accommodate student growth;

• renovations, additions and/or upgrades to 14 elementary schools, five middle schools, five high schools, the district’s maintenance facility, technology center and community learning center;

• a new district transportation facility; and

• information technology equipment and furniture to create “Future Ready Classrooms” at all schools Future Ready Classrooms will be equipped with the most current technology and furnishings to support collaborative learning and enhance communication among students and teachers.

The committee met four times and considered a long-range growth analysis of the district’s attendance areas conducted by Milone & MacBroom, Inc. and a long-range facilities improvement plan developed by M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc. — as well as the overall needs of the district, class size, school size, type of facility, etc.

Administrators presented the committee’s recommendations to the school board in formal presentations at the May 15, July 17 and August 7 Board Meetings. The committee recommended that the district move forward and pursue funding for these projects through a bond referendum question that would appear on the November 6, 2018 election ballot.

In order to fund the $365 million bond referendum, residents with homes valued at $100,000 could expect to pay about $56 ($4 per mill times 14 mills) more a year in property taxes or about $4.67 more per month. Business owners with businesses valued at $100,000 could expect to pay about $84 ($6 per mill times 14 mills) more a year in property taxes or about $7 more per month.

Lexington District One serves more than 26,300 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 with more than 3,747 employees (not including substitutes) and 30 schools (17 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, 5 high schools, 1 technology center). The district also has an alternative learning program called Alternative Educational Services.

During the past 10 years (2008–2018), the district grew 5,052 students, an average of 505 new students per year and remains one of the fastest growing school districts in the state, ranking sixth in total enrollment. In fact, during the 2017–2018 school year, the district grew by more than 600 students in 5-year-old Kindergarten through Grade 12 and currently serves an additional 764 3- and 4-year-old students.

In order to help Lexington District One residents find out how this plan impacts their child’s school and community, the district added a new five-year building plan page to its website. That page includes the entire list of projects, budgets and tonight’s presentation. The district will also add some commonly asked questions and answers there.