The school referendum is “a golden opportunity”
On October 6, Hampton County Citizens for Active Restoration (HCCAR) passed a resolution affirming their support for the upcoming $25 million school bond referendum. The resolution adopted by the HCCAR is as follows:
“WHEREAS the Hampton County School Board seeks to ask the voters of Hampton County to approve a $25 million bond referendum to build a new comprehensive high school for the citizens of Hampton County, and
WHEREAS the State of South Carolina has provided Hampton County with $52 million to build a new comprehensive high school with a vocational wing, full athletic facilities, auditorium and fine arts center, and
WHEREAS Hampton School District 1 and Hampton School District 2 have combined to form the Hampton County School District for the purpose of unifying Hampton County and providing the best educational opportunities for students in said district, and
WHEREAS the State of South Carolina has agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new high school through taxes previously collected from the citizens of South Carolina and the citizens of Hampton County will not be required to pay only one-third of the cost of the new high school, and
WHEREAS the Hampton County School Board and its leadership believe that the $25 million bond can be paid in installments without raising taxes, either
RESOLVED, That Hampton County Citizens for Active Restoration fully support and advocate for the passage of the 2022 Hampton County School Bond Referendum, and, be it further
RESOLVED that Hampton County Citizens for Active Restoration calls on similar agencies and civic organizations to pass this resolution to help support public education in Hampton County and ensure educational opportunities for children in Hampton County now and in the future.”
HCCAR is a nonpartisan citizens’ forum, actively working to improve: government services and accountability, improve county facilities and recreational infrastructure, strengthen the public school curriculum, and improve job training options for youth and adults. Passing the $25 Million Bond Referendum is significant for improving education in Hampton County. This is essential from a pedagogical and economic point of view. Hampton County desperately needs more career/technical opportunities for our youth. The Lowcountry Technical College serves Hampton County significantly, currently offering only 4 courses on the Hampton campus. HCCAR recognizes the need to improve secondary and post-secondary vocational/technical education which provides much needed training for the skilled trades.
We know that about 20% of our population has not graduated from high school. Forty-two percent of our population drop out of high school, and currently, our county’s education system does not provide material options for a qualified high school education. Imagine having a career center at our local high school that offers options to learn a skilled trade. We need electricians, plumbers, masons, master carpenters, laboratory technicians, radiology technicians, auto mechanics and many other qualified professionals.
An on-campus career center should encourage young people to stay in school, graduate with skills that live well in our county and contribute to a growing tax base. Imagine the 20% who choose not to graduate today, plus the 42% who graduate and choose not to continue – a total of 62% of our population – having the opportunity to learn skills locally that , after graduation from high school, enable them to earn a healthy life. wages! Imagine a career center on our local high school campus that develops a skilled workforce and that skilled workforce then becomes a magnet for industries. This career center located in a new high school provides an opportunity to see prosperity return to Hampton County while providing the education and future our children deserve. Simultaneously, those who wish to follow a college-preparatory pathway can continue to choose this pathway as well.
HCCAR fully supports this golden opportunity to build a new secondary school for 32.46% of the actual cost of a new secondary school. This would not be possible without the state injecting $52 million for the project. The State of South Carolina issued a check for 67.54% of the construction cost. This is the tax money you have already paid. It pays for two-thirds of the planned new high school. The people of Hampton County will never again be offered a deal like this to improve the infrastructure of the school system.
We have heard the opponents. Many will start their negative conversation by attacking consolidation and how they oppose it. The issue of consolidation is over. SC State wanted the two small districts to consolidate, just like other districts in our state have. The consolidation argument has been settled and using it as an excuse not to vote for the referendum is null and void, especially when someone else takes two-thirds of the tab. The $52 million grant from the state was granted to help the consolidation process.
Another argument is “my taxes will go up”. Not according to the superintendent and the Hampton County School Board. The district is currently paying debt service on equipment and buildings. This debt service payment will continue without the need to raise taxes, according to the district. How can you not be in favor of ONLY having to pay for a third of a new facility that will provide a comprehensive high school with a vocational/technical wing, new sports facilities and a cultural/arts auditorium? And the facility will develop a much-needed skilled workforce that will certainly supplement our county tax base.
HCCAR brings new dimensions to Hampton County in the form of transparency and accountability. We are committed to improving education and recreation in Hampton County, thereby attracting new industrial and business opportunities for our people. We are proud of Hampton County and what it can become with new leadership, which will soon be happening in the county council and the Hampton County School Board. Dear friends, please ponder and reflect on this golden opportunity for yourselves. If you were buying a new car and the dealership told you that you would only have to pay a third of the cost, I think you would accept that offer. This is the question you are asked today.
Please support public education in Hampton County and pledge to hold our elected officials accountable for the marked improvement of our public schools. Can Hampton County Public Schools Improve? You bet they can with the public working with the school district. It takes faith and effort to accomplish something extraordinary. This golden opportunity for the people can be the cornerstone of exemplary opportunities for our young people. There will be no other time or opportunity like this. Hampton County is poised to become an attractive place to live and work, but improving high school infrastructure and the provision of vocational/technical education programs is essential for our future. Help make this golden opportunity a reality by voting in favor of the bond referendum.