A new elementary school in Graniteville should open in a little more than a year.

The Aiken County Board of Education approved plans and a budget for the new school in Area 3. The school should open on Aug. 19, 2019, the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

The Aiken County Public School District will repurpose the Byrd Learning Center, which has been used for adult education programs, as a new elementary school for 400 students to alleviate overcrowding at Byrd Elementary. The school, on Willis Circle off Ascauga Lake Road, also will get a new name.

The Byrd Learning Center was the original Byrd Elementary School, which was built in the 1950s.

An architect for Goodwyn Mills Cawood said plans for the repurposed school include a new cafeteria and administration building.

The cafeteria, which would be painted in shades of blue to match the existing building, would feature a portable stage, LED accent lighting and acoustical panels on the walls and ceilings to reduce noise.

A perimeter fence and an interior fence would provide security for the campus. Plans also would include an amphitheater and paintings on asphalt in play areas outside that could be used for educational and teaching opportunities.

The total budget for the renovation and construction project is $6.7 million.

The Byrd Learning Center will move to a new location on Jefferson Davis Highway near Aiken Technical College.

A ribbon cutting for the new location will be at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 21.

Board members also approved the Aiken County Adult Education Center as the facility's new name.

Board Chairman Levi Green also announced the groundbreaking for the new Ridge Spring-Monetta High School will be at noon Aug. 17. The school will be built on the current campus at 10 J.P. Kneece Drive in Monetta.

In other business, the Board approved a request for permission to contract with ABM, an energy services contractor. The company implements capital improvements that are financed through energy and utility savings. According to the meeting's agenda, “ABM guarantees the client will realize energy and utility savings that meet or exceed the cost of construction and retrofits.”

“We believe we have a wonderful opportunity to provide remaining upgrades to our facilities, particularly as it relates to energy, lighting and HVAC systems and do it in a way that would be advantageous to our taxpayers,” District Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford said.

The Board also approved the issuance of the remaining $50 million in bonds of the $125 million in bonds to be repaid by revenue from the 1 percent sales tax voters approved in November 2014.

Tray Traxler, the district's chief officer of Finance, said the district issued $75 million in bonds in 2016.

“By law, we have to issue those bonds within five years of the vote,” he said.

Traxler said the district issued $75 million initially because that was the amount needed. He added that had the district issued the full $125 “there would be interest costs and costs of holding those funds – idle cash basically.”

“We also wanted to see was there a need for that additional $50 million,” he said.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.