By Al Dozier


The Lexington-Richland School District Five School Board Monday cheerfully reviewed details of a five-year federal grant totaling more than $13.7 million to fund new magnet programs at three elementary schools and a the Center for Advanced Technical Studies.

Details of the grant were presented at Monday’s board meeting by Magnet Program Director Sara Wheeler, who described it as an outstanding opportunity for the district to continue its “passion” for magnet schools.

The district has been fostering magnet programs for the past few years in an effort to provide “choice” programs for students. Magnet programs have been a priority for Superintendent Stephen Hefner.

Nursery Road Elementary, H. E. Corley Elementary, and Leaphart Elementary will receive funding for the magnet programs. The grant will also fund a new career initiative magnet program partnering Irmo High School and the Center for Advanced Technical Studies.

The grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Magnet School Assistance Program, is the second multimillion dollar magnet program grant for the district. In 2013, District Five was awarded a $10.3 million MSAP grant for magnet programs at five schools.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this great news for our district,” said Hefner.

The grant will fund: an Arts Integrated Magnet Program at Nursery Road Elementary; a Montessori Program at H. E. Corley Elementary: an expansion of the LEAP Program at Leaphart Elementary from STEM to STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math); and IBCP, a career emphasis initiative partnering the CATE Center to the International Baccalaureate program at Irmo High School.

District Five will hold a Magnet Fair November 9 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at CrossRoads Intermediate School so that interested families and students can learn more about all the magnet programs offered by the district.

In other action at Monday’s meeting the board received a 10-day enrollment count which showed the district close to last year’s figures. The 2018 figure showed an enrollment of 17,228 students, compared to 17,322 last year.

Chapin High School continued to have the largest enrollment in the district with 1,387 students, 66 more than last year.

The board also received a report from Technology Director Jenny Garris on an outside study by Future Ready, a consulting agency focused on researched learning strategies. The study provided a comprehensive evaluation of the technology programs in the district and outlined the need for improvements, including a disaster recovery program. The district plans to follow the study’s recommendations for a new data center and to increase technology staffing.

Board members Michael Cates and Beth Hutchison recommended parent input on technology that would assure students could participate in on-line testing programs that are being implemented statewide.

The board also received an update on test scores in the district, which continue to exceed the state and national averages.

“We can pat ourselves on the back when we look at comparisons,” said board member Jan Hammond. But she advised the board to do everything possible to keep teachers in the district during a time of dropping recruitment numbers.

The board agreed to a request by Dutch Fork High School Touchdown Club to make scoreboard improvements in the stadium.

The board also approved a selection of delegates to attend the S.C. School Board Association Delegate Assembly.