1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Updated through the end of the 2001 Session

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Title 59 - Education





SECTION 59-23-10. Schools required to provide ample means of escape from fire or stampedes from other causes.

It shall be illegal for any county superintendent, school trustee, school treasurer or other disbursing officer to pay out any money or public funds, whether State, county, municipal or local, for the maintenance or operation of any public school now operated in a schoolhouse of two or more stories not provided with ample means of escape from fire or stampedes from other causes, as herein provided.

SECTION 59-23-20. Requirements for safety for buildings existing prior to March 18, 1924.

The minimum requirements for safety for school buildings in existence prior to March 18, 1924 shall consist of easy means of exit from not less than two opposite sides of the school building and when in case of an old building there is only one stairway there must be provided, before any such school can be legally operated, another stairway for exit on the opposite side of the building or a safe slide securely fastened to the building and extending from one or more windows on the side opposite the stairway and reaching to within six feet of the ground. All hall and exit doors shall open outward. No public moneys may be legally paid out for the operation or maintenance of any existing public school where there are hanging flues in the building or where the stovepipe runs through the side of the building, a window or the roof, unless the same be safely encased in a brick flue or double terra cotta.

SECTION 59-23-30. Old buildings not subject to requirements for new buildings.

It is expressly provided that Sections 59-23-10 and 59-23-20 shall apply to school buildings in use on March 18, 1924, to buildings the plans, specifications or descriptions for which had been drawn prior to that date and to buildings actually in process of construction on that date, but no such building shall be affected by the building code set forth in Sections 59-23-40 to 59-23-190.

SECTION 59-23-40. School buildings erected after March 18, 1924 shall conform to building code.

Every school building erected in the State after March 18, 1924 shall conform to the following building code, and before any such building is commenced the plans and specifications, or a detailed description, shall be submitted to and approved by the State Superintendent of Education or his agent.

SECTION 59-23-50. Combustible outer wall materials as restricting height.

No school building in which the outer walls are constructed of wood or other combustible material, even though veneered with incombustible material, shall be more than one story high, except that a basement may be constructed below the first floor if the first floor is not more than five feet above the ground.

SECTION 59-23-60. Exterior wall materials of buildings of more than one story; thickness of walls and foundations; loads.

School buildings with more than one story above ground shall have the exterior walls constructed of properly bonded masonry of stone, concrete, brick or structural terra cotta or a suitable combination of these materials and of not less than the following thicknesses:


1st Story 2d Story 3d Story 4th Story

Ext. Int. Ext. Int. Ext. Int. Ext. Int.

One-Story .......... 12"

Two-Story .......... 12" 00 12" 00

Three-Story ........ 16" 00 12" 00 12" 00

Four-Story ......... 16" 12" 16" 12" 16" 12" 12" 12"

In each case the foundation walls shall be at least four inches thicker than the first-story walls and the footings shall have a further spread of at least four inches on each side and be so proportioned as to give approximately equal loading on all parts of the foundation. In case of concentrated loads the walls shall be increased in thickness or reinforced by pilasters or buttresses so that the load shall not exceed the following unit stresses:

Structural terra cotta .................................. 5 tons per sq. ft.

Coursed rubble stone .................................... 6 tons per sq. ft.

Brick work--lime mortar ................................. 6 tons per sq. ft.

Brick work--cement mortar ............................... 10 tons per sq. ft.

Concrete ................................................ 10 tons per sq. ft.

Where walls are very short or are properly braced or reinforced by piers, pilasters or buttresses the State Superintendent of Education may, at his discretion, permit thinner walls than those given in the schedule of wall thicknesses, but in no case shall a fire wall be less than twelve inches thick and in no case shall the loadings be heavier than in the schedule of wall loads.

SECTION 59-23-70. Floor and roof loads.

The floors and roofs of all school buildings shall be so designed and constructed as to sustain safely with a safety factor of at least four the following superimposed or live loads in addition to the weight of the construction or dead load:

Classrooms ........................................... 60 pounds per sq. ft.

Corridors ............................................ 80 pounds per sq. ft.

Auditorium with fixed seats .......................... 100 pounds per sq. ft.

Auditorium with movable seats ........................ 125 pounds per sq. ft.

Gymnasiums ........................................... 150 pounds per sq. ft.

Roofs ................................................ 30 pounds per sq. ft.

SECTION 59-23-80. Timbers, flues and roofing material.

The ends of joists or beams entering masonry walls shall be cut to a three-inch bevel and where they enter from opposite sides they must be staggered so as to have eight inches of solid masonry between. No timber shall be placed within two inches of the outside face of any chimney or smoke flue. All chimney and smoke flues shall be lined throughout with terra-cotta flue lining or else shall have all walls at least eight inches in thickness. In no case shall flues be supported upon woodwork nor corbelled out from the wall more than four inches. The roofs of all school buildings more than one story high shall be covered with fire-retarding materials.

SECTION 59-23-90. Exits.

Every school building of more than one classroom shall have at least two widely separated exits and in no case shall the distance from the door of a classroom, laboratory, study hall, assembly room or auditorium be more than one hundred feet from the nearest exit. Every auditorium or assembly room shall have at least one exit from the stage and at least two independent exits from each floor and in no case shall one exit serve more than two hundred and fifty people. Every exit shall be easily accessible without obstruction to all the persons that it is intended to serve.

SECTION 59-23-100. Corridors.

Every school building of more than three classrooms shall have one or more corridors not less than eight feet wide and in no case shall it be necessary to pass from one room through another to reach an exit.

SECTION 59-23-110. Number of stairways.

Every school building more than one story above the ground shall have at least two stairways from the top floor to the ground. No stairway shall serve more than four classrooms, nor more than two hundred and fifty persons in study halls, assembly halls or auditoriums, nor shall the distance from the door of any such room to the nearest stairway be more than one hundred feet.

SECTION 59-23-120. Encasing of stairways in larger buildings.

Every stairway in a building of three or more stories shall be entirely encased by solid brick fire walls not less than twelve inches thick with no openings to the interior of the buildings and shall be approached only through vestibules with one side fully open so that neither flame nor smoke may pass from one story to another.

SECTION 59-23-130. Construction of stairways.

All stairways shall be constructed to sustain, with a safety factor of at least four, a live load of one hundred pounds per square foot. The width of stairways shall be at least four feet, the treads shall not be less than eleven inches and the risers not more than six and one-half inches. All stairways shall be on straight runs with all changes in direction made with platforms. There shall be a substantial handrail on each flight. No door shall open immediately on a flight of stairs but there shall be a landing at least the width of the door.

SECTION 59-23-140. Doors.

All exit-doors from corridors, halls, stairways, auditoriums, assembly rooms, study halls, libraries, laboratories, workshops, classrooms, toilets or other rooms for the accommodation of more than five persons shall open outwardly and be secured, if at all, against ingress only.

SECTION 59-23-150. Protection of woodwork or lath and plaster.

All woodwork or lath and plaster within two feet of a boiler, furnace, stove or smokepipe or of a gas or oil lamp shall be protected by a lining of asbestos board one-quarter inch thick and of sheet metal with one-half inch space between. All woodwork within two inches of any hot-air pipe and overhead ceilings of boiler and furnace rooms shall be protected in like manner with two thicknesses of asbestos paper and one thickness of sheet metal or by metal lath and plaster.

SECTION 59-23-160. Light and ventilation.

Every school building after June 28, 1967 erected shall conform to the following minimum requirements for light and ventilation:

(a) Every habitable room of school buildings after June 28, 1967 erected shall have one or more windows, unless otherwise specifically provided herein, to afford adequate light and ventilation;

(b) Where windows are required such windows shall open on a street, public space, yard, or approved open space that will afford adequate air and light. Required windows shall be so constructed that when fully opened, the total open space shall not be less than one half the required window area;

(c) Attics not used for habitational purposes shall have provisions for the emission of excess heat;

(d) Skylights, vents, louvers or mechanical ventilation may be substituted for windows when approved by the proper official, provided, adequate natural light and ventilation is provided to meet the requirements of this section:

(e) Except as otherwise provided herein, required windows shall have glazed openings of clear glass of area not less than one tenth of the floor area of the room served by them with the following exceptions:

(1) Basements and cellars not used for habitational purposes - windows shall have an area not less than one fiftieth of the floor area served.

(2) Storage rooms - windows shall have an area not less than one twentieth of the floor area served.

(3) Obscure glass, glass blocks and similar glazed panels that admit less light than clear glass shall have area increased to admit amount of light equivalent to the above requirement.

(f) Rooms where by reason of use or occupancy, dust fumes, gases, vapors, odors or other hazardous, obnoxious, or injurious impurities exist shall be provided with adequate additional ventilation to insure safe and healthful conditions;

(g) An alcove opening off a habitable room may be included as part of that room in determining the window area required provided eighty percent or more of the common wall area provides an unobstructed opening to the alcove;

(h) No room that has less than fifty percent of its height above the average adjoining finished grade shall be used as a habitable room;

(i) Toilet rooms shall not open directly into a kitchen or room used for the preparation of food;

(j) Every toilet room shall have windows as specified for habitable rooms providing in no case less than three square feet of open space, or shall have approved, equivalent mechanical ventilation;

(k) Classrooms in school occupancies shall have at least unilateral light. The windows shall be located on the long axis of the room;

(l) Where ventilation is provided by mechanical means, fresh air in sufficient quantity to maintain healthful conditions shall be provided to meet the requirements of all State laws. In the absence of such requirements, ventilation at least equivalent to the requirements of this section governing natural ventilation shall be provided;

(m) Lavatories, toilets, bathrooms and rest rooms shall be provided with at least two cubic feet of fresh air per minute per square foot of floor area.

SECTION 59-23-170. Toilet facilities.

Where water and sewerage are available, at least two toilet rooms must be provided, well separated, well lighted and ventilated and equipped with approved sanitary plumbing. If water and sewerage are not available, suitable toilet accommodations shall be provided, meeting the approval of the State Department of Health and Environmental Control.

SECTION 59-23-180. Higher requirements established by ordinance not affected.

The intent of this code is to fix minimum standards and nothing herein shall be construed as lowering the standards required by any municipal ordinance or superseding the authority of the building inspectors or other officials in the enforcement of such standards.

SECTION 59-23-190. Inspection and approval by State Superintendent of Education.

The State Superintendent of Education shall inspect, either in person or by deputy, all school buildings hereafter erected in this State, and his certificate of approval must be obtained before any such building may be occupied.



SECTION 59-23-310. Conveyance of title to school building not necessary for school purposes authorized.

The trustees of any school district may convey, in fee simple, title to any school building within the district which is no longer needed for school purposes upon compliance with the provisions of Section 59-19-250.

SECTION 59-23-320. Certain conveyances or transfers prior to February 25, 1954 validated.

All conveyances or transfers made prior to February 25, 1954 to trustees even though not elected as formerly provided in this article are hereby validated, ratified and confirmed according to the terms and conditions of such deeds of conveyance.

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