School board votes to merge Lamar and Spaulding elementary schools

By Jana E. Pye, Editor,

The Darlington County School Board met on April 13 and unanimously voted to close one school in Lamar, saving the district between $50,000 – $100,000 per year.

Warren Jeffords from Lamar made the motion to accept the recommendation from the district to merge Lamar Elementary and Spaulding Elementary, and moving the Middle School to the Lamar Elementary campus.

“I will just explain to the public and media that this move will take place in the school year 2016-17,” said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of the school district. “There are a couple of reasons for it. To have a 4K through 5th grade school would help consolidate the program, plus make it easier for vertical alignment of the curriculum and have the lower grades the primary grades accountable to the upper elementary grades. Also, it will allow parents from the lower and upper elementary children to pick up from one school. Moving Spaulding to the Lamar Elementary site will be necessary for space purposes, but also the Middle School being adjacent to the high school it will avail the 8th graders access to high school facilities and high school classes, which they can get credit towards graduation- so that will be helpful.” The move will make it easier for 8th graders that compete on the high school teams to arrive for practices, and allow physical education classes to be held at the high school gymnasium.

Plans are to do renovations to make the schools suitable for the changes needed for the age groups moving to the new locations, such as bathrooms, which are typically different at the kindergarten level.

“We’ll have meetings in Lamar” said board member Warren Jeffords. “And get their input on this.”

Ingram said he would be meeting with the faculties of all the schools starting on the following day. Tuesday and Wednesday and answering any general questions. “No one will lose a job or anything like that,” said Ingram. “There may be a couple of jobs that will be repurposed.”

The savings will be a large factor in the changes.

“We would save anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in operating costs by operating one less school,” continued Ingram. “Those will be annual savings- and that is a conservative estimate. It will probably be more than that. – in heating and lighting and that sort of thing.”

The vote passed with no further discussion.

In other action items, the “White House” building at the St. John’s campus, a former home for young teachers, was voted to be demolished.

According to Dr. Eddie Ingram, “We tried to give this away several years ago. It is cost prohibitive to move; it would take $300,000 to move it intact and if it was split into pieces there would be no way to put it back the way it was.”
The district fears it is a liability if anyone goes on the property. Plywood has been placed up to the windows, but that may not be enough to keep trespassers out. The property will be used for parking after demolition.

A resident of Darlington County requested permission to come in and draw plans and take pictures to replicate a similar house in the area. He may be interested in purchasing some of the artifacts from outside or inside the home.
“We can salvage what we can,” said Ingram. “And maybe save some for display in some of our schools as a historical reference and perhaps auction or sell other pieces that might be of interest to the public.”
Board voted unanimously.

The board also voted to accept the low bid to replace the Hartsville High School Fire Alarm replacement costs.
Prior to the regular meeting, several award presentations were made during the meeting:

The Clean Schools for the Month of March were awarded to the Darlington County Intervention School, and the Darlington County Institute of Technology,.

2015 SCMEA All-State Choir:
Three students from Hartsville High School earned spots in the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) All-State Choir. The three students are George Chapman, Andrew Lackey, and Daniel Thompson.

2015 SkillsUSA:
Four students from the Darlington County Institute for Technology won first place in their competitions at this year’s SkillsUSA State Conference.
Bryan Andrews – 1st place, Information Technology Services
• Max Sherman – 1st place, Graphic Imaging Sublimation
• Luke Harrison – 1st place, Electrical Construction Wiring
• Theodore “Teddy” Cutler – 1st place, CNC Turning Specialist

2015 SC Basketball Coaches Association 1A Basketball Player of the Year:
Justice McCullough of Lamar High School was named the 1A Basketball Player of the Year by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association.

ustice McCullough of Lamar High School was honored with three awards including 1A Basketball Player of the Year; shown with Principal Kathy Gainey, Dr. Eddie Ingram, Superintendent, and Connell Delaine, Board member.          Photo courtesy of Audrey Childers, DCSD

Justice McCullough of Lamar High School was honored with three awards including 1A Basketball Player of the Year; shown with Principal Kathy Gainey, Dr. Eddie Ingram, Superintendent, and Connell Delaine, Board member.
Photo courtesy of Audrey Childers, DCSD

2015 SC Basketball Coaches Association North-South All-Star Basketball Teams:
Two students earned positions on the SCBCA North-South All-Star Basketball Teams.
• Justice McCullough, a student at Lamar High School, earned a spot on the 2015 Boys North-South All-Star Basketball Team.
• Deanna House, a student at Darlington High School, earned a spot on the 2015 Girls North-South All-Star Basketball Team.

SC Basketball Coaches Association All-State Team:
Three DCSD students have been chosen to play on the SCBCA All-State Basketball Teams.
Girls Team
• Heylen Anderson is a student at Lamar High School.
Boys Team
• Frankie Johnson is a student at Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology but plays for Darlington High School.
• Justice McCullough is a student at Lamar High School.
2015 Best Western North-South Wrestling All-Star Classic:
Anthony Nycum, a student at Hartsville High, earned a spot on the 2015 Best Western North-South Wrestling All-Star Classic.

2015 SC All-State Wrestling Team:
Four Hartsville High wrestlers earned spots on the 2015 SC All-State Wrestling Team. They are Javieus Lighty, Rich Hunt, Brooks Haley, and Seth Spell.

The Budget Work Session will be held Friday, April 24 at the DCSD Administrative Office 120 East Smith Avenue Darlington, in Conference Room 3 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss with the district administration the budget for the 2015-2016 school year.

The next board meeting will be held at Brockington Elementary School in Darlington on May 11, 2015.

Author: Jana Pye

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