Schools receive millions in grants

Local school districts are benefitting from a portion of $55 million allocated by the state for facility improvements.

The State Board of Education approved more than $55 million in funds allotted by the General Assembly to be used for school facility improvement projects in 48 eligible school districts.

“Many of South Carolina's schools do not have the local revenue available to make substantial safety and infrastructure improvements and these funds will go a long way in improving conditions in those areas. By allotting this funding to the Abbeville districts, the General Assembly has shown a commitment to improving outcomes and conditions in the areas that need it most. I look forward to working with them to continue this commitment into the future,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, who thanked the State Board of Education for approving the capital improvement requests.

The General Assembly set aside $55.8 million to fund school facility upgrades for any school district that was a plaintiff in the Abbeville lawsuit or districts with a poverty index of 80 percent or higher. Forty-eight school districts were eligible and applied for funding.

The Allendale County School District is using its funds for accessibility and energy efficiency renovations to Allendale Elementary and Allendale-Fairfax High’s vocational wing.

Bamberg District 1 is focusing on accessibility, energy efficiency and life safety upgrades to its gym and various schools by upgrading HVAC, fire and safety alarms, and ADA code compliance. In Bamberg District 2, they are performing life safety and handicap accessibility upgrades to security and access control systems.

Barnwell County’s three school districts also received funding. Barnwell District 19 is funding accessibility, energy efficiency and life safety upgrades to all school bathrooms, security and other projects. Meanwhile, Williston District 29 is improving handicap accessibility and energy efficiency through roof, HVAC, and toilet renovations at various schools. Barnwell District 45 is using its allotment for roof projects at Guinyard-Butler Middle and Barnwell High schools to improve energy efficiency and life safety, according to a list provided by the state.

“Districts submitted applications with their top three capital improvement project funding requests that must address health and safety, technology, career and technology education programs, or deferred maintenance needs,” according to a press release.

Facilities eligible for funding included instructional and related support facilities such as classrooms, libraries, media centers, labs, cafeterias, and physical education spaces; however, centralized district administration facilities, facilities normally identified with interscholastic sports activities, and new construction projects were not eligible.

Funding requests were analyzed by the S.C. Department of Education and State Board of Education utilizing facility assessments that were completed by third party contractors hired and paid for by the state earlier this year.

Applications for all 48 eligible districts were approved. Each district was allocated $1,163,101.