Chester County voters deny $38M bond for new career center, school improvements

Voters denied a bond Tuesday that would have paid for school renovations and a new workforce readiness center for Chester County students.

The unofficial total is 990 votes opposed and 863 votes in favor of the bond, said Becky Crouch, a spokesperson for the Chester County School District. Those results will be certified later this week.

The $38 million bond was to be used for maintenance, renovation and upgrades to the district’s schools, and to build a new workforce readiness center, according to the district. The needs were identified in a multi-year capital improvement plan.

The bond did not include a property tax increase for Chester County citizens.

“The children of Chester County lost yesterday. Now we are unable to complete the deferred maintenance and capital projects that were on the list for our schools,” the school district said in a prepared statement. “We are also not able to build the replacement for the Chester County Career Center.”

The children of Chester County lost yesterday.

Becky Crouch, Chester County School District

The workforce readiness center, which would cost $25 million, was meant to support programs offered to every Chester County high school student that prepares students for 21st-century careers. District leaders hoped to have the center ready for students for the 2019-20 school year.

Chester’s career center on Chester High School’s campus was built in 1968 and is “inadequate for today’s programs of study in preparing students for 21st century careers,” the district said.

The new center would have replaced the current one, and allowed students to work toward careers in technology, health and wellness, construction, agriculture, manufacturing and engineering while they complete core classes required for their high school diploma.

The center would prepare students for the jobs coming to Chester County, according to the school district.

“Chester County, like other counties in our area, is experiencing renewed economic development. Recently, several industries have relocated to our area that will have a demand for students graduating from this type of program,” the district said.

The center would have also housed the district’s adult education courses.

The bond would have also funded maintenance projects at elementary and middle schools and minor repairs at the high schools, at about $19 million over five years.

Chester County last passed a bond referendum in 1996 for $19 million, which paid for Chester Middle School and school renovations.

The county also passed a $22.5 million bond in 1991 for the construction of the Chester Park Complex.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082