Some of the schools in North Augusta are getting a face-lift thanks to the 2014 penny tax and the 2018 bond referendum.

The construction happening in schools around the county is, at its base, to provide students with a high quality education experience, said Dr. Shawn Foster, chief officer of operations and student services for the Aiken County Public School District.

More specific reasons he mentioned include space, safety and technology.

North Augusta High School is in the third phase of reconstruction, which includes an arena-style gym and fine arts and athletic facilities.

Construction started a few years back, and the renovation/rebuild has included many aspects of the school, including classrooms, computer labs, the cafeteria and JROTC rooms.

The North Augusta High School construction project was funded with the 2014 penny tax.

Updates to both Belvedere and Hammond Hill elementary schools were included in the 2018 bond referendum for $90 million.

“We’re still in the early design phase for those projects,” Foster said. He said the projects on the bond referendum will be phased in.

At Hammond Hill Elementary, around $15.2 million of the referendum will go toward eliminating nine portable classrooms, removing outdated facilities built in the 1950s, renovating facilities built in the 1990s, improving vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, improving school safety and improving school image and aesthetics.

The first phase of construction will see a new 24-classroom wing built, later phases would include a new cafeteria, multipurpose room and administrative wing.

Belvedere Elementary will get a new orientation, moving the entrance to the rear of the building and creating one secure entrance. A two-story classroom and administrative wing will replace the school’s classrooms built in the 1950s, and two portable classrooms will be eliminated. The cafeteria and kitchen will be replaced. The school’s capacity will be increased from about 645 students to about 760.

Two completely new schools will be built in North Augusta on the northeastern side of the city. Highland Springs Elementary and Middle schools – two connected, but separate schools – will be located off Belvedere Clearwater Road and will have a total capacity of 811 students, 496 elementary students and 315 middle students.

“I’ll say this, these facilities projects and what this community has allowed us to do is a true testament to this community’s commitment to providing the very best to our children,” Foster said, adding that the district has some of the best and brightest educators and the best and brightest students, so with the best facilities, “you can only imagine what we can produce.”

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.