FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence One Schools Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a list of maintenance projects that will cost approximately $500,000 in every school in the district.
The list consists of projects such as bathroom renovations, water fountain replacements, classroom painting and bleacher replacements.
Before the Thursday meeting, the board approved spending its "8% money" in the 2019-20 budget on the maintenance projects and technology. That is money the system is allowed to borrow against 8% of the property value in the district.
Superintendent Richard O’Malley said officials tried to remain around the same themes in each school, because it would be easier to get bids for the same projects in several schools rather than different projects.
O’Malley said he walked through the schools with each principal and the director of facilities to determine a list of projects that needed to be addressed. He said the district also hired M. B. Kahn Construction Co. to walk through the schools and complete an assessment.
O’Malley said they began to prioritize the list based on safety, health and things that need to be addressed.
“We tried to create some things, because we knew we had to do these during school,” O’Malley said. “We tried to make sure we were in parameters that we could do and accomplish these while school is in session.”
Board member Alexis Pipkins questioned why the list did not include new carpet in Wilson High School, because his constituents have expressed concern about the state of the carpet in the school. He said the carpet could cause respiratory problems for students.
"The carpet has been a long-stated, overdue issue, and at this junction on the first round, we're not addressing one of the issues, just like the bathrooms," Pipkins said. "I don't have a problem with moving forward and moving forward aggressively, but I'm saying that the issues that have been identified over and over by the community are not included in this list."
O’Malley said the carpeting has been replaced in the classrooms in all three high schools, and they are looking at replacing the flooring in the band room next. He also said that they prioritized the projects based on health, safety, consistency in the schools and what was possible while students are in school.
“We are sort of behind on this as well because we have to do these while students are in school,” O’Malley said. “This is what we think we can do while students are in school. So, this is what we think we can do while school is in session. That’s another part of this list that’s an issue.”
O’Malley said there will be another list of projects to be reviewed in November to make decisions about what can be done next.
Board member Trisha Caulder said she thinks the carpet in all three schools needs to be replaced, but the district has to start somewhere.
“We can sit here and argue about which needs to be first and which needs to be last, but we need to get started with this,” Caulder said. “We need to get it done, and we move to the carpet as soon as we can, but let’s go ahead with the list we’ve got before us tonight and get that through.”