The Beaufort County Board of Education approved its budget Tuesday night, and leaders are asking voters for more funding.
A $344 million bond referendum will be on the ballot this November.
The hope is that a new bond referendum in Beaufort County will alleviate problems like overcrowding in schools like River Ridge Academy. When it opened in 2015, it was already almost at capacity.
The referendum will ask county residents to vote on two separate questions.
Question 1: A total of $290,555,000 to:
- Acquire, install and construct school safety and security improvements district-wide.
- Acquire, install and construct technology infrastructure and related equipment district-wide.
- Construct and equip a replacement school for Robert Smalls International Academy (includes demolishing the existing facility).
- Construct and equip additions at May River High and River Ridge Academy.
- Construct and equip renovations at Beaufort Elementary.
- Construct and equip renovations and additions at Battery Creek High and Hilton Head Island Middle, including demolition where necessary.
Question 2 (only if Question 1 is approved by voters): A total of $54,055,000 to:
- Construct, renovate, expand and equip space for Career and Technology Education programs at Battery Creek High and May River High.
- Design renovations for Hilton Head High.
- Construct and equip athletic improvements at Beaufort Middle, Whale Branch Middle, River Ridge Academy, Bluffton Middle and H. E. McCracken Middle.
- Construct and equip athletic improvements at high schools district-wide.
- Construct, equip and improve playgrounds at early childhood centers, elementary schools and PreK-8 schools district-wide.
The largest portion, about $290 million, will be used to update the security of schools across the county. It will also add classrooms to River Ridge Academy and tear down and rebuild Robert Smalls International Academy. The rest of the money will be used to improve technology education and athletics at several schools, as well as improve playgrounds for students.
Beaufort County Schools Public Information Officer Jim Foster says resident home owners will be the ones paying for the bond.
“If the referendum passes, it will amount to about $9 a month – about the price of a movie ticket – for the life of the bonds, and the bonds are 20 year bonds,” Foster said.
Foster says it has been 11 years since the last bond referendum was passed. He says normally counties pass them every four to five years.
The Beaufort County Board identified $600 million in projects that need to be done, but the bond referendum only accounts for about $300 million.