Aiken County Board of Education members have agreed to designate March 7 and March 21 as days the School District will use to make up for school closure days as a result of the unexpectedly harsh ice storm.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Board member Wesley Hightower urged his colleagues to avoid selecting make-up days immediately.

The S.C. General Assembly is getting close to approving a bill that would give Districts the option of forgiving missed days. Hightower said he wanted to use that capability, but other Board members disagreed.

While he appreciates that state legislators want to allow school boards to make their own decisions, Vice Chairman Levi Green said, if possible, he didn't want to forgive any days that can be used to educate students.

The Board members still need to find two more make-up days to cover the remaining days the District was closed.

March 7 and March 21 originally were scheduled as teacher workdays. May 26 would be another possibility as a workday, but “What concerns me,” said Board member Tad Barber, “is if that day is really available (for instruction) when school is practically out.”

The Board chair, Rosemary English, commended Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and Deputy Superintendent David Caver for their diligence in getting students home from school on Tuesday last week “and keeping them home and back to school again,” she said.

In other business, community resident Geof Fountain addressed the Board as a member of a five-person committee that looked at the District's five-year facility plan, which is updated every year.

About 75 percent of District schools are more than 40 years old, and half are more than 60 years old and some much more than that.

The committees' conclusion, Fountain said, is that the District does not have access to sufficient funding to replace or at least upgrade the existing schools.

The schools are safe and clean, but they're still old and contribute to lost economic growth by failing to attract many new businesses and families, Fountain said.

The School Board also recognized the top two finishers in the Aiken County School District's spelling bee.

Also congratulated were nine students selected as winners at the recent Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative event. Those students were the top three within the elementary, middle and high schools.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter. He's been with the paper since 2001.