Berkeley County residents could vote on school construction in November

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Berkeley County School Board voted Tuesday night to begin the process of adding a referendum to the general election ballot on November 6.

"With a vote of 7-0 (with one Board member abstaining and one member not present), the Board of Education voted in favor of a resolution that allows the District to pursue putting the question of a proposed $198 million bond referendum on the November 6 ballot," said Susan Haire with the BCSD. The referendum will ask if voters are willing to approve $198 million in spending for new school construction and renovating/expanding existing schools. Berkeley Co. Schools officials say{}the county is adding on average 1,000 new students to the district each year.

"Those families that are moving to Berkeley County are just increasing our numbers," said BCSD director of communications Amy Kovach. "We're seeing almost a thousand new children join our school district every single year."{}

The spending package would include building five new schools - including: One high school and one middle school off Clements Ferry Road to serve students in Cainhoy and Daniel Island One elementary school at Tanner Plantation in Hanahan One elementary school near the Berkeley/Sheep Island interchange One elementary school at Fox Bank Plantation Five schools would receive "major' renovations (to include expansions) including: Goose Creek High School Stratford High School Cross High School Timberland High School Marrington Middle School Twenty-two schools would receive "minor' renovations The owner of a $100,000 home would see a property tax increase of $40/year for phase one beginning in 2014 and would see an additional $40/year increase for phase 2 beginning in 2017.

Westview Primary School parent Norman Davis says he's happy with the job BCSO is doing so far and that he's all for spending a little more money on education."I'm all for new schools and they're going to raise taxes anyway. I just want the children to have the best education possible. In this day and time, in this era, that's what we need."He also raised the point that a better education now could lead to better opportunities for scholarships later."Paying a little bit more money now, hopefully paying a little bit less for college," he said.

But not all parents are on board. Carolyn Lee has a granddaughter who goes to Stratford and she says she doesn't trust the government's plan for her money."Past taxes show me that they can say what they wanna say, but it [the money] doesn't go where it's supposed to go," she said.Lee says she would not vote for another tax if given the choice come November."Instead of administration getting what they want, the classroom needs to get it. We need to bring up our standard of education and the money is not getting to where it's supposed to be."