Members of the Aiken County School Board want more information before approving a new behavior intervention program for elementary school students.

The board unanimously approved a motion asking the Aiken County Public Schools' committee working on creating the program to bring the job description for its director to its meeting Feb. 25.

The school district had recommended the board approve creating and funding the program for the 2020-21 school year and authorizing the administration to hire a program director in the last quarter of the 2019-20 school year.

The mission of the program, for students in 5K through fifth grade, would be to provide therapeutic intervention for elementary-level students to address the physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs to empower them to be ready to learn and equip families with supports necessary for overall educational success, according to the committee's presentation.

The program's goal would be for students to return to their traditional school settings with the skills and self-awareness to exhibit desired behaviors and become engaged in the learning process.

The estimated cost of the program would be $723,303, including salaries for a director; secretary; counselor; three teachers; and technicians, a position similar to aids.

Board members said they supported creating a behavior intervention program specifically for elementary school students but also voiced concerns as follows:

• The proposed location of the program in D Wing at the Pinecrest Center for Innovative Learning in Aiken. The committee's alternate locations were Oakwood-Windsor Elementary, Freedman in Graniteville and Gloverville Elementary.

• Bus transportation to and from the site

• The possible need for more teachers

• How students for the program would be identified

• Future funding

• Lack of classroom teachers on the planning committee

• How the district would determine when students were ready to graduate from the program and return to their schools.

The board also heard updated plans for the new two-story classroom and administration addition and renovations at Belvedere Elementary School. The plan, which would demolish the existing wing built in the 1950s, also would improve the current traffic flow.

Construction could begin in April and be complete for the first day of school in August 2021.

The estimated budget would be $13.7 million. Funds from the bond referendum voters in Aiken and Saluda counties approved in May 2018 would help pay for the project.

Dr. Shawn Foster, the district officer of Operations and Student Services, said continuing construction projects at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School, the James Taylor gymnasium at Aiken High School, the new gymnasium and fine arts wing at North August High School and the new classroom and gymnasium additions at Midland Valley High School all are on budget.

Interim Superintendent King Laurence said the school district broke ground Tuesday for the new classroom addition at Millbrook Elementary School in Aiken. The addition will increase school security and improve traffic flow. Funds from the bond referendum will help pay for the project.

King said the district will break ground for the new Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary School and dedicate the new Ridge Spring-Monetta High School on Feb. 24. Both project received funds from the 1% sales tax voters approved in November 2014.

King said the Aiken County Scripps Spelling Bee has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Langley-Bath-Cearwater Middle School.

The district will hold meetings to receive public input for the search for a new district superintendent at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Midland Valley High School and at 6 p.m. Thursday at Aiken High School.

The board named Laurence the interim superintendent after it accepted the resignation of former superintendent Dr. Sean Alford in September.

​Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.