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District 55 to purchase more property near Ford Elementary

The Laurens County School District 55 Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday night after returning from executive session to purchase a tract of land near Ford Elementary School.

The initial $200,000 purchase will provide land for a future Early Childhood Development center. The lot is approximately 1.75 acres and is now home to P&T Hardware. The district bought another lot between Ford Elementary and P&T Hardware last year.

“This is a preliminary step that is consistent with long-term goals,” said Board Chair Susan Calhoun-Ware. “After the September referendum, we understand the public’s reluctance to take on a big project that would require a tax increase. It is too early to talk about next steps beyond the land purchase, but we intend to move forward cautiously and frugally while seeking ways to meet the needs of our student population.”

The district’s overall plan for the area around Ford Elementary is to secure frontage along Lucas Avenue from Edison Lane to Smith Road. P&T Hardware is at 705 Lucas Ave.

District 55 Chief Financial Officer Rodney Smith said no debt will be incurred by the district to purchase the property, responding to board member Mike Fortune’s request for clarification on that matter.

“There will be no tax increase and no additional debt,” Smith said. “We will pay for it with money we have in hand.”

District officials will use either money from the district’s general fund or from its 8-percent fund, which is money available annually for loan to the district based on assessed value in the district.

The final purchase of the property is predicated upon an environmental review to determine potential clean-up costs and other concerns.

Also, at Monday night’s meeting:

  • More than 30 students were recognized for perfect scores on End-of-Course exams and the S.C. Ready/S.C. Pass exams for this past spring.
  • Laurens Middle School 8th-grader Anna Grace Taylor was recognized for being chosen for the 2017 Duke University Talent Identification Program.
  • The board approved second reading for a policy requiring life-saving techniques to be taught in high school health/physical education course in accordance with state mandates.
  • District 55 Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters announced that State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman is to present a State of the Schools address on Friday, Feb. 2 at The Ridge.

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