As a relative newcomer to the Clover area, I would like to express my perspective regarding the March 22 bond referendum and offer insight into our past experience inside a school system facing many of the same issues.
We relocated to the Carolinas because of my husband’s job in Charlotte. We chose to settle in the Clover/Lake Wylie area because of the Clover School District. For those of us with children, CSD is providing them an exceptional educational experience. For those without children, the consistent high marks received by the school system help to grow property values. A real win-win for everyone.
The small town we moved from was much like Clover. The school system also was above average academically. That is where the similarities end.
Severely lacking within that school system was frugality and foresight, which resulted in constantly overcrowded schools. Of the many examples I could cite, their recent construction of a new high school is the most glaring. In 2006, the two-year-old elementary school still had so many mobile classrooms, it prohibited them from finishing construction of the main playground.
Despite this, the school board decided to construct the new high school via an increase in property taxes. They spent $70 million on one high school (which opened in 2008), and nothing more. On Feb. 25, the residents of our former hometown voted again to increase their property taxes (for 25 years) to renovate an old high school into a new elementary school, build a third elementary school (to be located beside a county landfill because that is the only land available), and renovate the football stadium. Within two years they project they will need an additional middle school, but have not found property to consider for purchase.
There is much about the Clover School District to praise. Here are few examples:
• Clover High School is being considered for the Palmetto’s Finest Award (the best in the state).
• During the economic downturn Clover’s school system operated within budget and grew! No one was laid off, and they even hired several new teachers.
• CSD owns more than 200 acres of land (in addition to the land usage addressed in the bond) to accommodate the future growth of our community. That is incredible foresight!
A few additional points to ponder as you consider the bond:
• Capacity does not equal enrollment. Clover High School is well below its capacity, and will remain so with the creation of the ninth grade academy.
• The bond amount is for $67 million, and the total cost for all projects is $99 million. The district will pay $32 million up front from the general building fund.
• This bond is not about a need for additional meeting spaces.
• Currently, and in the near future, our population does not support the expense of a second high school, especially when our immediate need is for an additional elementary school and middle school, which this bond addresses. In the (distant) future a second high school will be necessary, and thankfully our Board Trustees are planning ahead for that need.
• If you have questions about the bond, research the specifics. The CSD website was informative. clover.k12.sc.us/bond2014
• The biggest factor for all the successes of the Clover School District is YOU! Our schools receive so much support from the residents. Our children are thriving together because of this support and the sense of community that surrounds all of our schools.
I applaud the CSD Board of Trustees for their frugality, foresight and commitment to due diligence for our school system. We who live in the Clover and Lake Wylie areas are fortunate to have such outstanding leadership we can trust to carry us forward.
As parents of a recent CHS graduate and a first-grader, we plan to vote yes on March 22 in support of the bond referendum.
Melissa Miller is a Lake Wylie/Clover area resident.