Superintendent breaks down countywide school bond referendum

Superintendent breaks down countywide school bond referendum

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Monday was the final day for absentee voting in Beaufort County.

While many people know who they want their leaders to be, some are still unsure about the countywide school bond referendum.

When you walk in to vote Tuesday, no matter where you are in Beaufort County, you will see two questions. Both showing some pretty large numbers that would impact your taxes. Here’s what those numbers mean.

It has been over a decade since Beaufort County passed a bond referendum for the school system.

“So it’s important to note that in Beaufort County we haven’t passed a referendum in over 11 years and most successful school districts are passing referendums every four to five years,” said Dr. Frank Rodriguez, Superintendent for Beaufort County Schools.

Tomorrow voters will be faced with two questions. The first is the big one.

“Question one is it $290 million question referendum,” said Rodriguez.

That question addresses safety and security upgrades, technology upgrades, replacing Robert Smalls International Academy with a new building, and adding on to overcrowded schools like River Ridge Academy and May River High School.

“The second question is the $54 million question,” said Rodriguez.

That smaller request would improve athletics in middle and high schools, improve playgrounds in elementary schools, and expand technical career opportunities for students. If passed, residents would see results as soon as January.

“Between January and summer, we will begin to see some of that work begin.”

But $344 million is a big price tag. If passed, there would be an increase in property taxes. For example, a Beaufort County homeowner whose home is valued at $100,000, can expect to pay $28 more a year in taxes. Those costs would be indefinite until the bond is paid.

But the superintendent says even if it doesn’t pass, the need is there. The district would just have to get creative.

“Essentially what the district will do, is begin to try to plug away at that as much as we can, with the dollars we have through 8 percent funds to accomplish that. Which would take a very very long time.”

The push for support for this referendum has largely been a grassroots effort for dozens of organizations all over Beaufort County and we will find out Tuesday night if their efforts paid off.

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