UNION COUNTY — Lockhart Elementary/Middle School is in its final days but while the school itself will soon pass into history the building that housed it may gain a new lease on life through the efforts of its new owner the Town of Lockhart.
In March, the Union County Board of School Trustees voted 8-1 with Trustee Mike Massey opposed to close Lockhart Elementary/Middle School at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. The decision to close the school was based on a combination of factors including the average student cost being almost twice that of Buffalo, Foster Park, and Monarch elementary schools and Jonesville Elementary/Middle School. Another factor was the projected decreased in the school’s student population from 150 this year to 84 by 2025.
The board’s decision means that Lockhart Elementary/Middle School will join the long list of schools in Union County that have been closed over the past several decades. After the schools they housed were closed, some of those buildings simply sat and decayed from a lack of use and maintenance, eventually being demolished. Some, however, found a new lease on life and that may just be the case with the Lockhart school building.
During its May meeting Monday night, the board voted unanimously to approve a request by the Town of Lockhart that the Union County School School District transfer ownership of the Lockhart school building to the town.
Lockhart Mayor Ailene Ashe said the town sought ownership of the building to, first, prevent it from experiencing the same fate of schools that were closed and left to deteriorate. Second, Ashe said the town hopes to find a new use for the building that will not only preserve it but also benefit the community as a whole.
We do not want our school to end up like not only Kelly-Pickney, but also Adamsburg and Carslan, all of them are just in a heap,” Ashe said. “We have a committee formed that is working to possibly help us decide what businesses we could put there. We want to use it to attract economic development and jobs to Lockhart.”
Lockhart School Farewell Reunion
In a related matter, the board voted 6-2 with trustees Mark Ivey and Manning Jeter opposed and Trustee Betty Joann McMorris abstaining to approve a request by the town that the rental fee for the building be waived for the upcoming Lockhart School Farewell Reunion.
The reunion, which will be held Saturday, June 23, will be for alumni and other former students of Lockhart Schools as well as current students and their families.
Ashe said that the plan is for an Open House to be held at the school from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. She said the reunion will then continue at Lockhart First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 126 Armory Road (behind Lockhart One Stop) from 1-4 p.m.
Those who attend are being asked to bring finger food to share. Water and lemonade will be provided.
Donations will be accepted to offset costs. Anyone interested in making donations may send them to Karen Ashe, 3837 Jonesville/Lockhart Hwy., Union SC 29379.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.