Batesburg-Leesville, SC - In just a few short days, Lexington School District Three’s four campuses will come alive with activity as the 2017-2018 school year officially commences. As students and parents get back into the rhythm of bus pick-ups, class schedules and homework, they may notice some changes have been made to several of the schools’ overall appearances. That’s because district officials have been hard at work this summer making sure that every precaution is taken to enhance the safety of students and staff.
“We don’t want to wait until the tragedy gets here before we say, hey, we’ve got to do something. Tragedy can hit home at any time and while there’s nothing we can do to guarantee that it won’t happen to us, we are going to try to do everything we can to prevent it,” said Dr. Randall Gary, the district’s superintendent.
Dr. Gary described the efforts to enhance the safety features of Lexington 3’s schools as a multi-phase process. Phase One actually kicked off last spring when approximately 40 two-way radios were purchased to heighten the lines of communication among staff members at the schools. The radios will be used on a daily basis by both administrators and teachers for a variety of uses including recess duty, emergency drills, and getting in touch with other schools, the transportation department and the district office when needed.
Another (and perhaps the most noticeable) part of the Phase One safety upgrade includes more secure entrances at B-L Primary, B-L Elementary and B-L Middle Schools. Upon entering each of these campuses from the outside front doors, guests will encounter another set of closed, locked doors. A receptionist will have to buzz individuals into a secure waiting area where they will have to present a driver’s license or state-issued ID. The receptionist will then scan the ID to, among other things, check that individual against a sex offender database. Once it is determined that a person is safe to enter the school, then he/she will be let through a second set of locked doors to access the rest of the building, if needed.
“We’re all about teaching and learning in a safe and secure environment,” said Dr. Gary at the August Board of Trustees meeting. “These safety features just add another layer of protection.”
At the present time, no modifications have been made to B-L High School because of the school’s age. The main building was constructed in 1975 and according to Dr. Gary, the scope of the upgrades and improvements needed at the school is cost prohibitive. However, the district plans to continue to assess the needs at that campus in order to determine what steps should be taken in the future.
Other components of the Phase One facility safety plan include a new 5-foot fence around the playground area of B-L Elementary School and the clearing of brush from in front of B-L Primary School in order to make the campus more visible. These suggestions were just some of the ideas that faculty members presented to Dr. Gary at his “Superintendent Listening Sessions” that were held in 2015 during his first year at the helm of the district.
All of the Phase One improvements were paid for out of the general obligation bonds issued by the Board of Trustees’ 8% borrowing debt capacity. During the February 14, 2017 meeting of the Lexington County School District 3 Board of Trustees, the Board approved a resolution approving the issuance of this general obligation bond through the South Carolina Association of Governmental Organization (SCAGO) GO Program in the amount of $1.6 million.
More improvements are slated to take place during the course of the new school year, including better locking mechanisms on campus exit doors, a new baseball practice field, new roof surveys and added irrigation at the BLHS softball field.
Part of the Lexington 3 Phase One safety upgrade includes more secure entrances at B-L Primary, B-L Elementary and B-L Middle Schools. These improvements are slated to be completed by the first day of school.
A new 5-foot fence was installed this summer around the playground area of B-L Elementary School.
Brush was cleared in front of B-L Primary School in order to make the campus more visible from the road. This suggestion was just one of the ideas that faculty members presented to Dr. Gary at his “Superintendent Listening Sessions” that were held in 2015.