Editorials

Voters approve Rock Hill, Fort Mill school bond plans by big margins

Shamayne Mason votes at Boyd Hill Center Tuesday in the Rock Hill school district’s bond referendum. Her son Jimar, 10, a fourth-grader at Finley Road Elementary School, watches.
Shamayne Mason votes at Boyd Hill Center Tuesday in the Rock Hill school district’s bond referendum. Her son Jimar, 10, a fourth-grader at Finley Road Elementary School, watches. aburriss@heraldonline.com

While turnout was small for Tuesday’s school bond referendums in Rock Hill and Fort Mill, voters did the right thing for their communities. Those who took the time to trudge to the polls voted heavily in favor of bond issues that will allow their respective school districts to continue to meet the needs of students for years to come.

In Rock Hill, an estimated 5,130 voters cast ballots in the referendum on a $110 million package to cover a variety of needs in the district. But of that small fraction of registered voters, 4,532 – or about 88 percent – voted in favor of the proposal.

In Fort Mill, fewer than 5,500 voters went to the polls, but 3,258 – or about 60 percent of them – approved the bond issue.

In Rock Hill, the money will pay for 51 projects, ranging from expansion and renovation of existing schools, new activity buses, completing the district’s iRock computer initiative and increasing security. Every school in the district will benefit in some way.

Rock Hill supporters of the bond issue had the benefit of an effective selling point: No one’s taxes would rise. The new bond issue will occur just as a previous bond issue is being paid off, so the new package won’t require a tax increase.

In some respects, advocates for the Fort Mill bond package had a tougher sell. The $226 million package covered an ambitious program of building a third high school, a new middle school, an aquatics center and a training facility, buying land for future schools, technology upgrades, and renovations of schools at every level.

This was a more expensive bond package than Rock Hill’s, and it will entail a modest tax increase. Supporters also worried that concerns about the heavy growth occurring in Fort Mill would motivate voters to oppose the bond issue on the premise that voting against upgrading schools somehow would limit growth.

But supporters apparently did a good job of drilling home the message that growth was inevitable, and providing the money for schools to accommodate that growth was essential to maintaining an excellent school system.

In both Rock Hill and Fort Mill, much of the credit for the passage of these bond issues must go to district officials and members of the community who first listened to residents regarding their priorities for schools and then worked hard to ensure that people had the facts they needed to make an informed decision when they went to the polls. We are grateful to Fort Mill’s Keep Our School Strong Referendum Committee and Rock Hill Citizens for Children for their efforts.

Tuesday’s success also was testimony to the good stewardship provided by the school boards in both districts. These packages were rolled out on a timely basis, only when needs demanded, and neither package contained unnecessary frills.

Congratulations to all involved in promoting these bond packages and helping to inform residents of the pressing need for both. And congratulations to the citizens who voted “yes” for children.

In summary

Passage of school bond issues in Rock Hill and Fort Mill was the result of hard work by district officials and community volunteers.

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