School board rebukes one of its own over Chapin High renovation plan

Temporary classrooms that would be replaced by the renovation
Temporary classrooms that would be replaced by the renovation

By Logan Smith - bio | email

CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - School board members in Lexington/Richland District Five are admonishing one of their colleagues who is suing the district to stop a school renovation project.

The board voted 6-1 on Monday night to adopt a resolution condemning the legal delays regarding renovations to Chapin High School. Those delays come from a costly lawsuit filed by board member Kim Murphy.

The board's resolution said Murphy's lawsuit is denying students the timely use of much-needed facilities, and called for her to abide by the majority vote of the board and allow the district to move forward with the renovations.

[Click here to read the resolution (PDF)]

Murphy is seeking to stop or delay the $50 million project over concerns about damaging a creek behind the school. The Department of Health and Environmental Control gave the district permits in August to start building, but Murphy filed an appeal.

Despite the government's findings to the contrary, Murphy says construction would hurt water quality. The Army Corps of Engineers gave the district permission in November to move forward.

Superintendent Herb Berg said Murphy's lawsuit has so far cost the district more than $1.4 million, including over $275,000 in attorney and architectural fees. "With these additional costs, and the expectation of further costs, it is almost certain the project may exceed our budget and require some components to be scaled back," Berg told Chief Financial Services Officer Karl E. Fulmer in a memo outlining the lawsuit's costs.

The board also voted Monday night on a motion to split the renovation project into two parts, separating construction of the academic building from renovations to the parking lot and athletic fields. That motion failed 6-1.

The project would bring Chapin High's capacity to 1,700 students, and would add or renovate science labs and resource rooms and enlarge the cafeteria and media center.

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