PELION, SC (WIS) - The Lexington School District One School board voted unanimously to buy property for $982,980 from a former board member on May 15.
The land in Pelion was valued at $144,440 according to the most recent Lexington County tax bill. The 54.61 acres are located off Fairview Road near Main Street.
The property is owned by former board member and former Pelion High School Principal Jean Nichols Haggard and Hugh A. Nichols.
Haggard was principal of Pelion High School from 1992-2012 and after she retired, she was elected to the school board where she served from 2012-2015.
A spokesperson from the Lexington County School District One confirmed the statement, saying: "The district is purchasing a 54.61-acre tract for a new Pelion Middle School at $18,000 per acre. That is a very good price per acre compared to recent land purchases in Gilbert or Lexington. The location of the property is great. The land's topography is good for a middle school."
While the district spokesperson did not discuss the price disparity outright, the spokesperson did say what the school district paid is worth the money.
"The Pelion property is a rare piece of property that matches all of these needs and guidelines exceptionally well. While we know that some people in the community feel that the initial per acre cost was higher than anticipated, we know that the property is a bargain when you consider all factors of site development (access to utilities, road frontage, and development, topography, etc.)," the spokesperson said via email. "Because it not only meets but exceeds our expectations for a site, it will keep the cost per acre low throughout the development and construction process. Just because the cost of land is cheaper up front does not mean that the final cost per acre will remain cheaper if the site requires excessive site development."
The spokesperson also said that the Lexington School District One "prides itself on being good stewards of tax dollars" and says the district's relationship with the previous owner had nothing to do with the sale.
"When the district locates a piece of property that fits its needs, it reaches out to the landowners to see if they would be willing to sell," the spokesperson continued. "Who owns the property has nothing to do with the land purchase. Some people have expressed a belief that the district purchased this site because of its past relationship with the owners. That is ridiculous."
You can see the documents on the purchase and it's location here: