Student Ed. Center Moves Forward

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity for the Richland 2 School District. The long awaited Student Education Center – the project that started as a District Office renovation in 2011 and expanded to include a free standing vocational training center in 2012 – was the first design-build project in the district. Delays in securing a site have pushed the project out by at least 18 months. When plans to build on the Clemson Extension site did not materialize, the District and Design/Build team of Kahn Construction started reviewing sites anew. A site was found in the Village of Sandhills. Director of Planning Fred McDaniel presented an overview to the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. The $41 million dollar building project will also receive program funding from business and industry interested in helping to train students for our local workforce. Specific courses and industry partnerships are forthcoming.

Perhaps most interesting to parents making vacation plans for the coming months was the discussion of missed school days due to snow and ice. Pending approval from the state legislature, the Board approved to forgive two of the four recent snow days and to use the two scheduled make up days of March 28 and April 21 for the remaining two days. Superintendent Dr. Hamm polled teachers and parents in suggesting a solution to the inclement weather days. It was suggested the adding of the two days – one of which included removing Memorial Weekend – would create more havoc for families and large absences that would not be conducive for overall learning.

School #20

Elementary School #20, near Trenholm Extension and Decker Boulevard, will be the second construction project using the design-build format. A consortium of architects, engineers, builders and designers put forth a proposal to take the school from concept to completion working as team from the onset. While commonly used in private construction for decades and even public universities, the state only in very recent years authorized school district to engage in such contracts. The advantages are cost savings and a reduced timeframe. The realized savings are put back into the district for further projects.

The site incorporates surrounding wetlands as an opportunity for outdoor learning and observations. The three finalist teams (Kahn-Brownstone; Contract-Quackenbush; and Thompson-Turner) made their presentation. Each focused heavily on the uniqueness of a school surround by wetlands, forest and creek. Environmental consultants and civil engineers from all teams offered methods for protecting the natural habitat. After being graded in a rubric fashion, the School Board was presented with the highest scoring team and voted to accept the score and award the contract. The announcement as to the specific team will be saved pending notification and acceptance from that team. The elementary school is slated to open for the 2016-2017 school year.

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