As Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools inch closer to reaching capacity, the school district is banking on voter approval in an April 30 referendum on a $54 million bond sale.
The high schools are expected to reach capacity in the 2015-2016 school year.
The referendum is a single question that asks voters to approve a $54 million bond sale to build a new Riverview Elementary School on property the district bought last year and expand Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools. The bond package also would include the cost of upgrades to Fort Mill High School, which would annex the property now occupied by Riverview. The high school expansions would delay the necessity of immediately building a third high school, officials decided.
Expanding the high schools would increase their capacity by 600 students at each school, for a total of 2,400 students per school.
If the referendum doesn’t pass, the district will be faced with solving the issue of overcrowding – temporarily and permanently. Temporarily, they would likely use mobile classrooms at both high schools, said district spokesperson Kelly McKinney. Start times for the high school would also be staggered, she added, to prevent major backups during drop off and pick up times.
Technology and safety upgrades included in the bond referendum would likely not be funded, she added.
“It would be questionable,” she said.
When the high schools reached capacity, the district would eventually have to look at building a third high school, she said. Funding it would be the tough question, she added. Building a third high school is estimated to cost $110 million. A referendum would be the only likely way to raise funds for construction.
But if a $54 million bond referendum isn’t approved, “$54 million compared to $110 million? I don’t know. That’s a lot more money,” McKinney said. It would be hard to determine what killed the referendum. Was it that the public didn’t want the tax bite or that they didn’t want the expansion? It would be tough,” she said.
In order to qualify to vote in the referendum election, you must be registered to vote by March 30. Registration can be completed at the Voter Registration office in York County or by mail, or on scvotes.org. Applications are also available on scvotes.org.