School bond referendum public forums scheduled

4 mins read

Beaufort County School District Superintendent Frank Rodriguez has scheduled public forums this month to brief parents and community members on the school district’s $344 million bond referendum set for Nov. 5. 

“The upcoming election is an important event for the school district, and it’s vital for parents and community members to have accurate information on the ballot questions they’ll be voting on,” Rodriguez said in a release. “At these public forums, we’ll be briefing parents on the key points of the referendum and answering their questions.”

According to the school district, a group of community volunteers worked more than 900 hours – visiting 26 schools in Beaufort and other districts and receiving presentations from outside experts – before producing a district-wide projects list with a total estimated value of $629 million. Once the volunteer Community Project Review Committee submitted that list, the Board of Education developed a smaller set of priorities and approved a $344 million referendum for Nov. 5.

The referendum is targeted to address a variety of issues related to school facilities:

– School buildings need upgrades related to their safety and security.

– Older schools are experiencing maintenance and structural problems due to advancing age.

– Schools have technology infrastructure that needs to be updated.

– Hundreds of new students enroll in district schools, particularly in the Bluffton community.

– Career and Technology Education courses need additional classroom space and resources.

Voters will consider two separate ballot questions.

Firstly, if Question 1 is approved, there will be: safety and security upgrades at all schools; technology infrastructure upgrades at nearly all schools; classroom additions at River Ridge Academy and May River High; a replacement building for Robert Smalls International Academy; and renovations at three schools (Beaufort Elementary, Hilton Head Island Middle and Battery Creek High). Question 1 represents a total investment of $290 million.

The projects that voters will consider in Question 2 would be funded only if Question 1 is approved. Those projects are: improvements to athletic facilities at middle and high schools; playground improvements at early childhood centers, elementary and Pre K-8 schools; Career and Technology Education expansions at Battery Creek and May River high schools; and design work for renovations at Hilton Head Island High. Question 2 represents a total additional investment of $54 million.

If voters approve the referendum on Nov. 5, Rodriguez said the district will develop a broad-based committee of community members who will monitor all expenditures of referendum-related construction funds. This committee will submit regular public reports that will be archived on the school district’s website. In addition, all referendum funds will be part of the district’s independent external audits.

Want to Go?

What: Public forums on Beaufort County School District’s $344 million bond referendum


(All forums are scheduled for 6 p.m.) 

Oct. 14: Beaufort High School

Oct. 16: Battery Creek High School

Oct. 21: Spanish-language town hall, Bluffton Middle School

Oct. 22: Bluffton High School

Oct. 23: Hilton Head Island High School

Oct. 28: Whale Branch Early College High School

Oct. 29: St. Helena Elementary School

(Editor’s Note: There were eight forums, but the first occurred prior to press time.)

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