Voters to Decide on Extra Funding for School - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/15/05

Voters to Decide on Extra Funding for School

How much are good schools worth? Voters in one community actually have to put a price tag on where their children get an education. They're facing some tough choices.

The Bulloch County school board found out the schools they wanted to build will cost more money than voters have given them. So the question is, what do they do now?

With the new school year less than three weeks away, Principal John Frazier thought he'd already see construction at Southeast Bulloch High. But everything is quiet for now until voters decide how much of the school they'll build.

"This is our brainchild and we'd like to see it constructed as designed in its entirety," he said.

Bulloch County's school board planned to replace all three high schools and one elementary with the current one percent sales tax.

But bids on Southeast Bulloch were at least $8 million more than the $10 million they'd budgeted. Board members now expect the others to be just as high. They say the biggest factor is that international construction has driven up the cost of materials. In addition, technology for the classroom, such as computer projection screens, sent prices higher.

Thursday night, they decided to ask voters for more, another sales tax beginning 2009 and ending 2013, to finance the difference.

"If it doesn't pass, we have to go back to the drawing board that we've talked about but we don't want to," said Edwin Crosby, chair of the school board. "We believe it will pass."

The other option is to scale back the buildings they expect to last fifty years.

"Either build cheap buildings or find the money to build buildings the community deserves," said Frazier.

For now, the plans are just plans until the voters decide. Voters approved the current sales tax in 2003. It runs until 2008. A referendum on this next round of tax will be in September.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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