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Highland Springs zoning scenarios to come to final vote in special called meeting next week

Zoning scenarios for Highland Springs Middle School, which is on schedule to open for the 2023-2024 school year, were discussed at the Aiken County Board of Education meeting on Feb. 28.

The school board will vote on the final zoning decision for the new school on March 7.

“I was pleased with the town hall. I really enjoyed the give and take. I thought that we had a strong turnout,” said Dr. Lance Richards, a consultant with MTG. “Your polling that has been available on your website has been fairly strong for an initiative such as this, and I know that as elected leaders within your school community you have also had your own conversations within your district.”

Based on data presented by MTG, using ranked choice votes based on survey data from the two town hall meetings and online surveys, Scenario 1 was the most popular first choice with 40% of voters.

“Scenario 1 at least pulls from all four middle schools and I like that it gives an equal distribution across all the schools," said Dr. Patricia Hanks, who represents the North Augusta area. "Some of the other schools are currently at almost 700, they would drop to the 400 and 500 range as well. ”

Board member Barry Moulton said he hoped the discussions were helpful to the public and those impacted by the zoning change.

"I will say that my two favorites have been Scenario 5 and Scenario 1,” Moulton said, noting they were trying to create a more contiguous area while at the same time having the lease amount of impact on students. "

"It is really difficult and to me, it makes 5 and 1 very difficult to choose between,” he said.

Construction updates for Wagener-Salley High School, Aiken High School’s auditorium and Hammond Hills Elementary School also were given to board members.

All construction projects were said to be within budget and are expected to finish on time: Aiken High School’s auditorium is expected to finish in September 2023, Hammond Hills Phase 2 to finish in March 2023, Highland Springs to finish on time in mid-summer 2023 and Wagener-Salley to be completed by July 1, 2024.

The board also approved the creation for 38 new aide-level positions to meet a new state law that requires 30 minutes of unencumbered free-of-duty time for full-time K-5 teachers. This new position and the law would go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

Dr. John Bradley, who represents District 8, was not in attendance for the Feb. 28 meeting.

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Samantha Winn covers the cities of North Augusta and Augusta, with a focus on community oriented business and events. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews

Samantha Winn covers the cities of North Augusta and Augusta, with a focus on community oriented business and events. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Instagram: @swinnnews.

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