Keith Liner Aiken County School Board

Aiken County School Board Chairman Keith Liner, left, shows off a T-shirt recognizing Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School's progress on the recent South Carolina school report cards during the board's regular meeting Tuesday at the school. With him is Dwight Smith, vice chairman of the board.

BATH — Aiken County Public Schools' employees again will receive a Christmas bonus this holiday season.

The Aiken County School Board unanimously approved the $150 bonus Tuesday at its regular meeting at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School in Bath. All employees received the same bonus last year.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the employees. Last year, it was a tremendous hit and a big morale booster,” Tray Traxler, the district's chief officer of Finance, said after the board approved the bonus.

The board also unanimously approved the 2020-21 school calendar.

Teachers would return Aug. 10, 2020. The first day of school for students would be Aug. 17, 2020.

The calendar would include two dates designated as makeup days for school missed because of weather on April 1, 2021, and June 7, 2021.

The calendar would include five early dismissal days on the fourth Wednesday of designated months.

The last day of school for students would be June 3, 2021; the last day for teachers would be June 4, 2021, unless a weather makeup day is required.

The board also unanimously approved the school district's Five-Year Facility Improvement Plan through school year 2024-2025.

The plan would allow for the completion of an auditorium and renovations to F Wing at Aiken High School and and the demolition of the existing gymnasium and the addition of a new band practice field and athletic field at North Augusta High School during 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, Foster said.

Plans for 2024-2025 could include a new Wagener-Salley High School.

“We're committed to bringing a new school to Wagener-Salley,” Foster said.

The board also heard updates on construction projects.

The new name panels in green and gold, Aiken High's colors, are complete on the James Taylor Gymnasium at the school and are visible from Rutland Drive.

“They are giving it its identity, letting you know that you're at Aiken High School and that the Hornets are here and ready to compete,” said Dr. Shawn Foster, the district's chief officer of Operations and Student Services.

Renovations continue inside the gymnasium, too, including installing equipment in the training room, painting the facility's interior and redoing the floor. The new scoreboard also is in.

“That's going to be an exciting addition to the environment,” Foster said.

Foster said renovations could complete by mid-December.

Work continues on the new two-story classroom addition and gymnasium at Midland Valley High School, Foster said.

“That project is moving along very, very well,” he said. “If you drive down Mustang Drive, you see a lot of activity there.”

The project is expected to be finished in December 2020.

Students and faculty could move into the new Ridge Spring-Monetta High School in January 2020, Foster said.

“This project is the one I'm most excited about,” he said. “Then, we'll continue to move forward with the elementary addition.”

The foundation has been installed and the slab poured for the Phase III addition at North Augusta High School, which includes a new gymnasium.

“We're moving along extremely well,” Foster said.

The project should be complete in December 2020.

“As you drive around Aiken County, you see that everything is still coming together,” Foster said. “Our students and our community still carry that sense of pride in what they see going on at their schools and in the investment that they made in our facilities.”

The board also recognized the five schools that received excellent ratings recently on the state report cards: Millbrook Elementary School, North Augusta Elementary School, New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School, North Augusta High School and South Aiken High School.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.