By being cooperative, and jumping in to help expedite the construction of the new elementary school, ES2West Columbia City Council demonstrated that it shares in the pride of its community’s schools and the people who have had an impact in making those schools such a valued asset of the city.
Also, one of the goals of West Columbia City Council is to foster a sense of growth, along with the assurance it is ready to cooperate, if the result is for the enhancement of the community.
Last week council had that opportunity and the members of the Lexington Two School Board are thankful.
In the past, one of the ways West Columbia has maintained its charm is by offering comfortable neighborhood K-through-5 schools, like Saluda River Academy for the Arts on Duke Street and Brookland-Cayce Grammar School No. 1 on Hook Avenue. Those schools were built almost 70 years ago. Pineview Elementary, on Leaphart Road, is another West Columbia school that has been a staple of the community for decades.
Generations of children have walked the halls of these landmark buildings and the level of loyalty West Columbia families have to their schools is exceptional.
With the legacy of school pride echoing, West Columbia City Council heard a request from Lexington School District Two and then moved to help.
In the last year or so, Lexington School District Two, that enrolls students from West Columbia, and neighboring municipalities, has been building new schools.
West Columbia residents, along with the voters in the school district in November of 2014, resoundingly approved a $225 million bond referendum for the construction of two new elementary schools, and many other education-related facilities in the district. One of the new elementary schools is being built in West Columbia.
With the cooperation of the West Columbia City Council, students of that new elementary school should be able to start school on time in 2018.
Don Icenhower, Lexington School District Two’s operations director, came to the council meeting last Monday to ask if the city would make some exceptions to the noise ordinance in regard to work-hour limits in order for the project to finish on-time
West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton said he is a strong proponent of education, and wanted to help, but made sure all voices were heard before council voted to allow for weekend work at the site on Cougar Drive, across from Northside Middle School.
“We want to help our schools and our families as much as we can.” said Horton. “The education of our children is a priority for city council.”
The K-5 school will combine students from BC Grammar School No. 1 students and Pineview Elementary School. It’s scheduled to open in August of 2018.
Thompson Turner Construction is building the school. Jon Miller is a senior project manager for the company. He was at the meeting too.
After hearing all concerns from members of the neighborhood near the school site, council voted to give the district’s contractors the concessions Icenhower was seeking.
“We want to be proud of our schools,” Horton said.
For that vote, Lexington Two was appreciative.
“As a board member, I would like to thank the West Columbia City Council for allowing these concessions on the construction schedules. We know this is disruptive to the neighborhood right now. We certainly appreciate their patience and for their sake want to try to complete this project as soon as possible. We hopefully will not have to use all of the extra time allowed, but it’s nice to know we have that option,” said Brad Giles, Lexington Two Board member.
Beth Branham, also a Lexington Two Board member said she is grateful council was willing to grant the exception for the school, construction crews.
“We have good relationship, and I value that,” she said.
Councilman Tem Miles said the new schools in the district will provide the opportunity to attract more young families to West Columbia, and it helps with property values. “I fully support our schools,” Miles said before the vote to help with the school district’s building schedule was taken.
Jon Miller expressed his appreciation for the consideration of council. And he said construction crews would impose as little as possible.
“Thompson Turner appreciates that the City of West Columbia was able to extend the work areas for the (school) site which will facilitate the opening of this new state of the art school.,” Miller said.
The addition of the new schools, in addition to the upgrade to some of the existing West Columbia schools has generated a sense of pride in for West Columbia students and their families. West Columbia City Council is pleased to be a part of the effort.