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Breaking down projects, numbers before November’s school bond referendum vote | #schoolsaftey

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – It’s a chance for Lowcountry voters to shape the future of Beaufort County schools.

But if you vote for the $439 million schools referendum, what exactly will you be casting a ballot for in November?

“All schools receiving some additional safety and security measures on their campuses,” explains Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriguez.

That was the first thing Rodriguez pointed out about the $439 million referendum, the largest ask in District history.

From doors to halls to parking lots, keeping kids and teachers safe is job one.

Getting them jobs is also important. That’s why the expansion of the Career Technical Education (CATE) program at Bluffton, Beaufort and Hilton Head high schools had to be on the list.

“We provide opportunities for industry certifications for students so they can graduate and head out to work with industry certifications in hand. This is about an expansion of the career technical education program we have,” said Rodriguez.

Bluffton’s population has grown 150% since 2010, and that has led to a lot more kids in local schools.

It’s part of why $56 million for a new K-5 school next to May River High School in Bluffton is on the list — to help ease the 161% capacity at Prichardville Elementary.

There is $167 million for the rebuild of Hilton Head Island High School and $65 million for an improved Lady’s Island Middle School also in the plans.

Plans were created in large part by a citizen-led oversight committee, that watched over the money from the 2019 referendum.

“When we passed the last bond referendum I put in place a citizen oversight committee that meets monthly and reviews the work of the district in executing the bond referendum and how we spend the public’s dollars on those bond referendums,” said Rodriguez.

And now they will lead the way on this bond request in 2023.

“They volunteered over 900 hours since December in which they visited our schools, looked at our facility assessment reports, looked at other data sources, checked out the schools for themselves and came up with a list and presented it to me,” Rodriguez said.

“We have accountants with significant experience on there. We have people who have run major corporations around the world. We have tremendous resources here and tremendous expertise here,” he continued. “And we are leveraging that expertise with the community to build that accountability for ourselves for that work and build accountability for how we handle their dollars.”

Rodriguez says the referendum will be done without adding any money to the millage rate. The rate will remain at 36 mills, the same level at 2019.

If you would like to learn more before making a decision, the district will hold information sessions and share educative information about the proposed referendum projects before the Nov. 7 election.

Official Ballot Question

Shall the Board of Education of the School District of Beaufort County, South Carolina (the “School District”) be empowered to issue, at one time or from time to time, general obligation bonds of the School District, in a principal amount of not exceeding $439,035,000, the proceeds of which shall be used to finance the costs (including architectural, engineering, legal and related fees) of the following:

Re-building and equipping Hilton Head Island High School including renovation, construction of additional space and demolition of a portion of existing facility;

Constructing and equipping a new replacement school for Lady’s Island Middle School on its current location including demolition of the existing facility;

Constructing and equipping a new PreK-5 elementary school in Bluffton; Constructing and equipping a new early childhood center in Bluffton, including space for support services;

Constructing and equipping additional space at the Riverview Charter School including a new gymnasium; Constructing and equipping Career and Technology Education Renovations and Additions

Beaufort High School – Renovations and Addition
Bluffton High School – Addition
May River High School – Renovations and Addition;

Constructing and equipping a Technology and Warehouse Imaging Center; Constructing and equipping a kitchen to be used for the Right Choices Alternative Program and the District Educational Services Center;

Constructing, acquiring and installing HVAC equipment at multiple school facilities; Acquiring and installing furniture at multiple school facilities; Constructing improvements to parking lots/driveways/sidewalks at multiple school facilities; and Constructing, acquiring, and installing additional safety and security enhancements at multiple school facilities?

If the voter wishes to vote in favor of the question, fill in the oval next to “In favor of the question/yes;” if the voter wishes to vote against the question, fill in the oval next to the words, “Opposed to the question/no.”

In favor of the question/yes
Opposed to the question/no

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