Lexington-Richland Five district board approves plans for new middle school

A look at the proposed plans for Lexington-Richland Five's new middle school. Sketch provided by the district.

A look at the proposed plans for Lexington-Richland Five’s new middle school. Sketch provided by the district.

A brand-new middle school is on the way for Lexington-Richland Five after a unanimous vote by the district board Monday.

To address growth in the Chapin area, school officials aim to have the proposed campus ready by 2015. Designs drawn up by Quackenbush Architects put the middle school adjacent to Lexington-Richland Five’s newest school, Spring Hill High, on Broad River Road. The middle school also would be near the Center for Advanced Technical Studies.

Superintendent Stephen Hefner said Monday that the original proposal was to construct a new elementary school but that enrollment numbers led administrators to revise the goal.

Board members reviewed staff recommendations regarding color scheme and floor plans at their August meeting. Now, their vote will allow Director of New Design and Construction Keith McAlister to move forward with construction documents.

“We expect to be in the bidding process in December or January,” he said.

McAlister added that current plans include an early site package through which the district will bring in contractors to do prep work at the location. Workers will be able to complete grading and the building pad so full-scale construction can start quickly after bids are awarded.

If all goes well, Lexington-Richland Five will open the school in the fall of 2015.

The proposed campus is designed specifically to relieve overcrowding at Chapin Elementary, Lake Murray Elementary and Chapin Middle schools by housing fifth- and sixth-graders at Chapin Middle and moving seventh- and eighth-graders from Chapin Middle to the new school. Hefner added that the shift could be short-term depending on growth in the area.

Preliminary sketches also include plans for a future sports stadium, athletic fields and parking.

The construction is part of the 2008 bond referendum projects. Cost is estimated at $28 million.

In other news, the board voted to extend Hefner’s contract by one year following an outstanding evaluation.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, a resident raised the question of Richland County representation on the board. He asked when there would be the required three trustees instead of two serving on behalf of the county. Chairperson Robert Gantt responded by saying the submitted question would be answered in a timely fashion.

Lexington-Richland Five district board’s next meeting will be Sept. 23 at Dutch Fork High School.