Union Co. School Board approves motion to close Lockhart Schools

UNION COUNTY, SC (WSPA) - The Union County School Board of Trustees approved a motion to close Lockhart Schools during a special meeting Monday. The vote comes after a push from the community to save the schools. 

“Not really surprised but I still had hope,” said Lockhart Mayor Ailene Ashe. “We have been begging people for a week to pray for us.”

She said it’s more than a building for a small town trying to grow. 

“We try to bring people in with children and the first thing people want to know is about the school system and Lockhart has always been very high in scores,” said Ashe. 

The high costs of maintaining the building stood out after a facilities study last year, according to Union County School District Superintendent.

“The fact of the matter is.. it's still an old building with old galvanized pipes that could burst at any moment,” said Dr. William Roach. 

After hearing from the public and Lockhart town leaders, the school board approved a motion tonight to close Lockhart Elementary and Middle schools by the end of this school year.

“The big concern is the financial piece where almost double per student is being spent at Lockhart. That's a concern of elected members to make sure they're being good stewards of the taxpayers money,” said Dr. Roach. 

He says the district will save up to two million dollars each year by moving the students to other schools, and faculty and staff can fill vacancies within the district. 

“It's tough because you hear the stories. You hear the folks say this is the heart of our town,” he said. 

Town leaders said they’re now looking at what’s next. 

“I hope that they will give the building to the town and hopefully you know, we can't see right now but hopefully we may can use that and work forward to help build the town,” said Mayor Ashe.

Dr. Roach said students will be reassigned at Jonesville Elementary/Middle, Foster Park Elementary School, and Monarch Elementary School, and Buffalo Elementary school if space is available. 

"We are a choice district, and as space permits we'll continue to allow folks to choose the school they want to go to," said Dr. Roach. "We'll have to get folks placed first and then see what our availability is."

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