Orangeburg County School District students between the ages of 5 and 11 will be able to get a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Vaccines will be available Saturday, Feb. 19 at Edisto Elementary, Mellichamp Elementary and Holly Hill Elementary from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The district will partner with the S.C. Department of Education to provide the vaccines.

School officials say about 85% of parents responded to a districtwide survey indicating they desire to have their children vaccinated.

Students over 12 can also be vaccinated at the clinics.

Energy performance

Trustees voted 5-3 with one abstention to proceed with negotiations with Alpharetta, Georgia-based ABM Buildings Solutions LLC with the intention to enter a contract to upgrade the energy performance of schools.

The resolution does not obligate the school district to proceed with the contract until all financing and legal terms and conditions are finalized.

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Trustees R.L. “Poppy” Brown, Betty Pelzer, Vice Chair Dr. Debora Brunson, Peggy James-Tyler and Chair Ruby Edwards voted in favor. Dr. Sylvia Bruce-Stephens, Dr. William O’Quinn and Idella Carson voted against.

Trustee Mary Ulmer abstained.

The district would pay for the work through a $41 million general obligation bond. The cost of the work is estimated to be about $39.9 million.

School officials say the bond would not require a tax increase. The work would be done from August 2022 through August 2025.

“It has a lot of flexibility in how we move and how we finance this process,” Compass Financial Advisors Bob Damron said. “This is not part of your 8% debt capacity, so it doesn’t affect your debt limit in any shape, form or fashion.”

He said, “This is very standard on the way other performance contacts are financed by other school districts in the state.”

The contract would provide the district with new HVAC equipment, new LED lights, water conservation equipment, energy control systems, a one-year maintenance plan and the ability to treat air with bipolar ionization.

Some trustees have expressed concerns about approving an energy performance contract while the district is developing a facility improvement plan.

Officials say the upgrades would be done to schools that are not proposed for closure or new construction under the district’s facilities improvement plan.

The contract can be changed should the district’s improvement plan change, said Bob Grant, district assistant superintendent for operations.

The bond will be paid through energy and operations savings, Grant said.

Last year, ABM conducted an energy performance assessment of the district’s electric, light and water systems.

ABM officials say 91 percent of the district’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment is past its useful life.

District facilities

Trustees received information on the district’s plans to eventually contract with a construction manager at risk to help oversee any building projects the district undertakes as part of its districtwide facilities plan.

The CMAR would provide architectural and engineering services to the district, and be contractually bound to deliver the project at the agreed-upon cost.

School officials say with the rising cost of equipment and supplies, going with a CMAR is most likely the safest and cost-effective way to proceed.

“The risk is actually on the general contractor and not on us in the event there is a spike on the construction costs,” Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said.

Grant said the deadline for a CMAR to respond to the district’s request for proposals would be March 16, with the board making a final approval around April 16.

“This is a process that would need to happen regardless,” Foster said. “If the plan is not successful, no harm, no foul.”

Other business

• Trustees gave unanimous first reading approval to the district’s 2022-2023 academic calendar.

• Trustees recognized Lake Marion Technology Center January Rookie Teacher of the Month Kevin Gist II.

• Trustees recognized Whittaker Elementary School employee Vanester Ravenell as the OCSD Employee of the Month. Ravenell, who serves as a bookkeeper at the school, was the first to receive the award, which will be given out monthly.

• Trustees recognized Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School senior basketball guard Jordan Simpson, who has been named preseason Region V Player of the Year; Preseason South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association Top 5 Senior; member of the 2021 Holiday Hoop Fest All-Tournament Team and the Most Outstanding Player for the 2021 Orangeburg County Basketball Tournament.

Simpson has received numerous scholarships to a number of colleges in recognition of his athletic and academic talents.

• Trustees recognized students who participated in the South Carolina Beta Club State Convention held in Myrtle Beach on Jan. 12-14. The students will participate in the National Beta Club Convention in Nashville, Tennessee at the end of June and early July.

• Trustees were informed that the compilation of a districtwide strategic plan continues. The final document will come before the board during its March meeting

• The district’s Career Fair is scheduled to take place Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center at 1645 Russell Street.

All school sites and departments and will be represented.

• Trustee Brown expressed his appreciation for Foster’s representation at the recent South Carolina Alliance of Black School Educators meeting held in North Charleston.

• The next school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the district headquarters at 102 Founders Court in Orangeburg.

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