Disney is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the Republican’s takeover of its theme park district, alleging Wednesday that the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” The suit was filed minutes after a Disney World oversight board appointed by DeSantis voted to void a deal that placed theme park design and construction decisions in the company’s hands. The DeSantis board said Disney’s move to retain control over their property was effectively unlawful and performed without proper public notice.

Orangeburg County School District trustees unanimously voted to spend $5.4 million to upgrade the athletic fields at six of the district’s high schools.

The plan will upgrade athletic fields from grass to turf at the Edisto High School, Branchville High School, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School, Bethune-Bowman Middle High School, Lake Marion High School and at the future Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.

The work at each site will cost between $880,000 and $920,000, Assistant Superintendent for Operations Robert Grant told trustees last week.

Work will begin this summer on at least two fields and the other three will be done in late fall and early winter, Grant said.

The fields will be available for use for multiple athletic events and competitions.

The cost is included in the larger $190 bond referendum approved by voters in November 2022.

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Trustee Dr. William O’Quinn asked if the fields have a warranty and was informed the warranty is 10 years and can be extended up to 15 years.

Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said the district expects the fields could last up to 20 years with proper maintenance.

“It does hold up very, very well,” Foster said.

Foster said the fields are used in the National Football League.

“We want to make sure we give our students something that is quality and will endure over time,” Foster said.

In a related matter, the district plans to install a rubberized track at Edisto High School with U.S. Department of Agriculture rebate funding the district has received.

In other matters, trustees voted 4-3 against endorsing trustee Mary Berry Ulmer to run as a candidate for the South Carolina School Board’s Association secretary/treasurer.

Ulmer is currently serving her second and last four-year term as regional director for Orangeburg, Calhoun and Sumter counties.

Betty Pelzer, Ruby Edwards, Deborah Brunson and R.L. “Poppy” Brown voted in opposition. Dr. William O’Quinn, Dr. Sylvia Bruce-Stephens and Idella Carson voted in favor.

Trustees Peggy James Tyler and Ulmer did not vote.

Following the vote, Ulmer thanked the counties for allowing her to represent them over the past eight years.

In other business:

• Trustees recognized Edisto High School’s Golden Essence Drumline Percussion Ensemble for being first-place winners in the South Carolina Band Directors Association Winter Assemble championship.

The school district announced it would provide a championship ring to each member of the ensemble and provide the ensemble with $60,000 for new band equipment. Foster also said every band program in the district will also receive funding for new equipment.

• The district recognized Edisto High School students who placed at the state’s Future Business Leaders of America conference and who will compete at the national FBLA conference in Atlanta, Georgia this summer.

• The district recognized the Lake Marion High School Quiz bowl team. The all-female team finished first in the Black History Quiz Bowl held at Claflin University. The students each received $100.

• The district recognized four William J. Clark Middle School junior scholars. The students will receive an award of merit certificate from the State Department of Education and an invitation to attend summer opportunities at colleges and universities across the state.

• Trustees recognized Mellichamp Elementary School students who placed at the 67th annual Region II Science and Engineering Fair. Students from Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Elementary School were recognized for receiving honorable mention in behavioral and health sciences.

• Orangeburg Technology Center students won first place for their Skills USA Chapter display.

The students were awarded a gold medal for winning back-to-back state championships. A total of four schools from the Orangeburg and Calhoun County school districts participated.

Board members received a t-shirt from the Skills USA competition.

• Trustees recognized Lake Marion Technology Center logistics Rookie Teacher of March Matthew Williams. Williams teaches students and prepares them for the field of logistics and manufacturing.

• Trustees recognized Edisto High School’s Director of Bands Dr. Ophelia Darby as March Employee of the Month and cited her being a team player who comes early and stays late with her students.

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