Support Rock Hill school bond

Supporters of the Rock Hill school district’s five-year, $110 million bond plan say it can deliver all the proposed improvements without raising taxes. And they’re right.

If voters approve the package in Tuesday’s referendum, the new bond issue would occur at roughly the same time an older bond issue expires. Residents would pay the same amount on the new issue as they were paying on the old one – so, no new taxes.

It’s a good indication that district officials and school board members have done a good job of staying on top of the district’s essential needs and scheduling maintenance and upgrades on a timely basis. The district has neither fallen behind in meeting those needs, which might then have required a much larger bond package, nor loaded up the plan with unnecessary frills.

The package contains 51 projects. Building renovations will take up the largest amount.

About $30 million, or 27 percent of the total $110 million, would help pay for basic upgrades such as new roofs, windows, doors and floors at Northwestern and Rock Hill high schools, Rawlinson Road and Sullivan middle schools and the Applied Technology Center.

Another $24 million, or 22 percent, would pay for renovations and expansions at 11 elementary schools. That $24 million also would help cover library improvements at eight elementary schools.

Other improvements include renovating restrooms, adding security fencing and improving traffic patterns for cars dropping off students.

The package also sets aside $15 million as a contingency for a new elementary school in the Riverwalk area of the district.

A central part of the package addresses the lack of common space in many schools. That includes not only classroom space but also auditoriums, cafeterias and space for teachers to store materials. Some cafeterias are so overwhelmed that schools have to start serving lunch at 10:30 a.m. and keep the lines going until 1:30 p.m.

About $1.56 million would be allocated to replace the district’s oldest activity buses over the next five years.

Finally, the plan would include up to $9 million to expand the district’s iRock program to provide laptops for all students at Rock Hill’s three high schools. The iPads currently used in high schools would be given to third-grade students (students in grades four through eight already have iPads).

This is largely a nuts-and-bolts proposal. It extends the life and usefulness of schools and other buildings in the district. It ensures that students will have the space to learn, the technology they need to remain competitive with their peers in other districts, and enhanced security to keep them safe.

Todd Lumpkin, chairman of Rock Hill Citizens For Children and one of the developers of the five-year master plan, notes that “these are the things we had to do; there are no beautification projects.”

And the essential needs addressed in this plan are not going to go away. They can’t be met by reshuffling students or changing schedules.

If residents want to sustain the quality of education in one of the finest school districts in the state, they have to take care of those needs as they arise. And that is what this bond package achieves.

We urge voters to approve this plan in Tuesday’s referendum.

In summary

District officials and community members who drew up this plan did a good job of focusing on essential needs.