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Here’s why the Beaufort County GOP endorses school bond referendum | Opinion

The Beaufort County Republican Party executive committee endorses passage of the school district’s $345 million bond referendum that will be on the ballot Nov. 5 because it is imperative to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for all children.

The party’s Issues Committee made the recommendation, noting that the state of South Carolina does not give districts funds for buildings or maintenance. The committee also cited rapid growth in certain areas of the Beaufort County School District coupled with deferred maintenance, and the need for critical safety and security upgrades at all schools.

The party executive committee emphasizes that with a new superintendent of schools, it is time to move forward and focus on the needs of the students and teachers.

The party’s resolution also affirms the appointment of a Citizens Review Committee to be formed to oversee the implementation of the referendum and make reports to the public, the school board and the superintendent.

Following is the resolution approved by the executive committee:

Whereas: The Community Project Review Committee (CPRC), a citizens’ group of 50, reviewed the physical status of 26 Beaufort County schools and recommended a comprehensive list of $629 million in facilities needs.

Whereas: The Beaufort County Board of Education prioritized the list presented by the CPRC and has placed two separate questions on the Nov. 5 referendum:

Question 1 — $290 million in critical safety and security upgrades at all district schools; technology infrastructure upgrades at schools districtwide; classroom additions at River Ridge Academy and May River High; a replacement building for Robert Smalls International Academy; and renovations at three schools (Beaufort Elementary, Hilton Head Island Middle and Battery Creek High).

Question 2 — An additional $54 million in Career and Technology Education expansions at Battery Creek and May River high schools; design work for renovations at Hilton Head Island High; improvements to athletic facilities at district middle and high schools; and playground improvements at early childhood centers, elementary and PreK-8 schools.

The second question will go into effect only if the first question is approved.

Whereas: The amount of bonds the school district can issue without a referendum is limited to 8% of the value of all taxable property within the district, which is called the “8% debt limit.” The school district does not have enough 8% debt limit available to pay for the projects identified in the referendum.

Whereas: Since the school district’s last successful bond referendum 11 years ago, the district’s total enrollment has increased by more than 3,000 students. The school district has issued bonds within its 8% debt limit to address as many capital needs as possible. The amounts available under the 8% debt limit have not been able to meet the ongoing capital needs and to address enrollment growth.

Therefore: Be it resolved that the Beaufort County Republican Party supports Referendum 2019 which provides essential funding via general obligation bonds for the Beaufort County School District based upon a Citizens Review Committee being formed to oversee the implementation of the referendum.

Barbara S. Nielsen is communications director for the Beaufort County Republican Party.

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