By Al Dozier


Some local residents expressed opposition at Monday’s school board meeting to a proposed site on Amicks Ferry Road for a new elementary school in Chapin

Chapin resident Liesha Huffstetler said the new school, which is now designated as Elementary School 13, would create numerous traffic concerns because of the surrounding subdivisions at the location.

She said traffic from Timberlake, The Oaks, Night Harbor, Stephenson Lakes, and other subdivisions would redirect down Long Pine Road to avoid the backed up traffic coming from the school.

She said Long Pine Road is not built to handle this increased traffic, which could wind up on the nearby dirt roads.

Because of the placement of the school and increased traffic congestion, she said the travel time from Timberlake to Chapin will increase to 30 minutes or more during the morning and afternoon rush time.

Board members had no immediate response to the complaints. District officials said plans for the new construction site are still being developed.

In other action the board was advised of an upcoming budget crunch as the state adopts new policies that will affect district costs. Increases in employment retirement contributions and insurance costs, and the loss of millions from lottery funds will weigh heavy on the district.

Chief Financial Officer Len Richardson said the final decisions in the legislature have not yet been made but “it’s not a pretty picture right now.”

The board will hold a budget workshop March 20 to discuss ways to deal with the shortfall. First reading of the budget is scheduled for April 24.

Superintendent Steve Hefner provided an update on his 2020 Vision Plan for the district, which includes the addition of the new elementary school in Chapin. The plan also calls for a third wing to Chapin Middle School.

The plan also calls for the continued expansion of magnet schools, additions and improvements to athletic fields in the Chapin area, and renovations to arts facilities at Chapin and Dutch Fork high schools.

Hefner is also calling for the restoration of an assistant superintendent of administration, a post that has been vacant since 1996. The new position would be designated as chief planning, an administrative officer.

The board received an update on the district’s magnet and school choice programs which district officials say are flourishing.

The district has magnet programs in arts, environmental science, engineering and career pathways. It allows students to explore their interests, according to district officials.

The board also received an update on the district’s technology programs, which included recommendations to match new devices with identified needs and to refresh all devices each year.

District officials said priorities include making sure students have access to on-line data and are able to access and submit assignments. There was some discussion on the need to monitor student Gmail accounts.