With the beginning of 2018, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette will preview some of the biggest local issues expected to impact the lives of residents, workers, business owners and tourists in Beaufort County and surrounding areas.
The Beaufort County Board of Education will hold a $76 million bond referendum in the spring, an election that could have long-lasting repercussions on the school district’s attempts to address Bluffton’s growing student enrollment.
If approved, the money would be used to fund a new school in Bluffton, expand two existing Bluffton schools, and construct three Career and Technical Education (CATE) buildings in the county, including one in Bluffton.
Should voters reject the proposal, as they did by a 55-45 percent margin in 2016, district officials say they will be left scrambling for solutions that could include increased class sizes, added modular classrooms, or changes in which schools serve what grades — answers that some parents contend are unpopular, temporary solutions.
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Left off of the referendum’s projects list is about $37 million in key maintenance items, such as roof replacements and HVAC upgrades. District officials are hoping a countywide reassessment of property values will increase the district’s annual borrowing capacity beyond the current $20 million.
If that doesn’t happen, the school board likely will reshuffle priorities on the projects list, pushing some further down a planned 10-year timeline.