Board Green-Lights Bond, Career Center Contract

FAIRFIELD – The Fairfield County School District is one step closer to a new career center, with the Board voting Tuesday night to approve a $20 million bond to pay for the facility, as well as the contract with the architectural firm to begin work on the project.

The Board unanimously approved the $20 million bond, which will bump millage rates up to 34 mils for two years on all taxable property, according to Mike Gallagher, a financial advisor to the District on the bond issue. The millage rate will then come down to 24 mills afterwards, Gallagher said. J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, said that tax revenues from the two new reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station could help alleviate the District’s debt ahead of schedule when those reactors come on line. Brent Jeffcoat, the District’s bond attorney, agreed, adding that no matter what happened regarding the future of the reactors, the $20 million bond was well within the District’s debt limit.

The estimated cost for the new career center is $15.6 million. The remaining $4.4 million will be used to finance other facility and equipment needs within the District.

The Board also unanimously accepted the contract with Brownstone Design, LLC, of Columbia, and MBAJ Architecture, of Lexington, to construct the facility. Board Chairwoman Beth Reid said the District would officially sign the contract Wednesday (Feb. 20), and that construction would begin March 1, 2014. The move-in date for the District is July 31, 2015, Reid said.

The District is considering three locations for the career center, all of which lie between Fairfield Middle School and Fairfield Central High School. Reid said the facility will not be a comprehensive high school/career center, but will be a stand-alone facility overseen by its own director.

“This is a big day for Fairfield,” Reid said, “and for the future of the career and technology center.”

The Board also voted 7-0 to approve a pay increase for Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputies working in the District. Green said deputies working directly under Sheriff Herman Young had received a raise last November and that this increase would bring deputies working in the District up to that same pay level. The salary increase, of $960 per deputy, was made retroactive to Jan. 20, and brings the cost to the District for the three deputies and one supervisor to $128,996 annually. Kevin Robinson, Finance Director for the District, said the District’s budget could absorb the salary increases.

After officially accepting the resignation of Tiwana Meggett, Director of Human Resources for the District, the Board voted to approve a contract with a consultant to carry out her duties until the end of the school year. The Board voted 7-0 to contract with Dillon and Associates, Human Resources Services, LLC, of Newberry at a cost of $525 per day for three days each week, or $1,575 per week, with the expense coming from the District’s general fund.