Berkeley seeking $198 million for schools
The Berkeley County School District wants voters to approve $198 million in general obligation bonds so it can embark on a building program that officials say would ease overcrowding and make schools safer.
The school district aims to build five new schools and do major renovations at five others. Another 29 schools would see minor improvements.
Shall the Board of Education of The School District of Berkeley 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 the principal amount of not exceeding $198,000,000, the proceeds of which shall be used to finance the costs (including architectural, engineering, legal and related fees) of acquiring land, constructing, improving, equipping, expanding, renovating and repairing school facilities within the School District as follows:
Proposed School Improvements include the following:
Constructing and equipping (including technology) the following schools:
A new high school in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy area;
A new middle school in the Daniel Island/Cainhoy area;
A new elementary school in the Sheep Island Road area;
A new elementary school in the Tanner Plantation area; and
A new elementary school in the Fox Bank Plantation area.
Major renovations, improvements, additions and modifications, including technology and other equipment, to the following schools:
Cross High School;
Goose Creek High School;
Marrington Middle School;
Stratford High School; and
Timberland High School.
Renovations, improvements, additions and modifications including technology and other equipment, to the following schools:
Berkeley Education Center
Berkeley Intermediate School
Berkeley High School
Boulder Bluff Elementary School
Cainhoy Elementary/Middle School
College Park Elementary School
College Park Middle School
Cross Elementary School
Daniel Island Elementary School
Devon Forest Elementary School
Goose Creek Primary School
Hanahan Elementary School
Hanahan High School
Hanahan Middle School
HE Bonner Elementary School
Howe Hall AIMS School
JK Gourdin Elementary School
Marrington Elementary School
Sangaree Elementary School
Sangaree Intermediate School
Sedgefield Intermediate School
St. Stephen Middle School
Westview Middle School
Whitesville Elementary School
If the voter wishes to vote in favor of the question, place a check or cross mark in the square after the words “In favor of the question;” if the voter wishes to vote against the question, place a check or cross mark in the square after the words “Opposed to the question.”
In favor of the question [ ] [Yes]
Opposed to the question [ ] [No]
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.