Berkeley seeking $198 million for schools
The Berkeley County School District hopes voters will approve $198 million in general obligation bonds to improve schools and ease overcrowding.
The school district aims to build five new schools and do major renovations at five others. Another 29 schools would see minor improvements.
District officials say 15 of the county’s 41 schools are currently at capacity, and many others are nearly out of room. They also have a list of building needs that is several pages long.
A 1999 referendum for $192 million “was about facilities,” said Amy Kovach, district director of communications and community relations. “This one is about population growth and overcrowding of facilities.”
The Yes 4 Schools campaign has worked for the last month to raise awareness about school needs.
The Berkeley Citizens for Sustainable Education agrees that there is a need for new schools, but believes the district is misleading the public about the cost to taxpayers and the condition of schools. It also raised some questions about the ethics involved in publicizing the campaign.
“Although it is a difficult issue, especially when there are some needs in this district, I do not believe that now is the right time or that the proposal is appropriate,” said Josh Whitley, a lawyer who heads up the group. “I also do not believe that the message this board is sending has been accurate, and at times, I believe it has been disingenuous.”
If approved, the campaign would add $60 to the taxes on a $150,000 home starting in 2014, and an additional $60 starting in 2017, based on the county’s current tax base. It would go back down to $60 in 2023 and phase out by 2036.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.