Education

Advocates: Rock Hill school bonds mean jobs, security

Residents advocating for issuing $110 million in bonds to benefit Rock Hill schools offered a slightly different message Thursday night.

The consistent message from Rock Hill Citizens for Children has been that it’s simply about the children. If approved the bonds will enhance all aspects of the educational experience, from additional technology to improved classrooms throughout the district.

At Thursday’s public meeting, attended by a handful of residents, the citizens committee said the May 5 referendum is also about new jobs and security.

Todd Lumpkin, chairman of the citizens group, said when businesses consider locating in Rock Hill one of their first questions is about the schools. The decision to borrow $110 million needs to be passed by an “overwhelming margin to send the message we stand behind our schools,” he said.

The jobs Rock Hill students will compete for is also a factor, Rock Hill school board members and educators said.

“We need to make the changes for the jobs that are out there and the jobs we don’t even know about yet,” said Rock Hill schools Superintendent Kelly Pew.

Pew and school board members attended Thursday’s workforce development summit held by the Catawba Regional Education Center. Pew said the workforce development goals and the objectives of the bond “go hand-in-hand.”

The Rock Hill school board has promised it can issue the bonds without raising taxes. The bonds would be sold over time. As existing debt is paid, new debt would be issued.

The bond would be used for six areas:

▪ Renovations at existing schools.

▪ Purchase of new activity buses and improvements to traffic access and grounds at some schools.

▪ Technology upgrades so that students in grades three through 12 would have a laptop computer or an iPad.

▪ Security and energy efficiency improvements at many schools.

▪ Basic repairs to some of the district’s oldest schools including new doors, windows, roofs and floors.

▪ The possibility of building a new elementary school in the Riverwalk area of Rock Hill if the number of students living in the area continues rise. If enrollment doesn’t justify a new school, Pew said the bond funds allowed for new construction could be used to add classrooms at several schools.

Anthony Cox, associate superintendent for administrative services, said the security changes are included throughout the bond proposal. The proposed new activity buses would replace models from 1989 – “2016 models are much safer than 1989 models,” he said. Changes in the drop-off patterns at some schools also will make them safer, Cox said.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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