Vote “In fa­vor of the ques­tion/yes” to both Rich­land 2 Bond Ref­er­en­dum ques­tions on Novem­ber 6th!

The State (Sunday) - - News -

Dear Rich­land 2 Vot­ers,

The Rich­land School Dis­trict Two bond ref­er­en­dum on the Novem­ber 6th bal­lot will fea­ture the rec­om­men­da­tion from the dis­trict’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and school board on the fund­ing needed to pro­vide a qual­ity and safe ed­u­ca­tion for our stu­dents. We are a group of Rich­land Two par­ents who strongly sup­port the bond ref­er­en­dum, and to­gether we formed the Yes 2 Our Stu­dents cam­paign to ad­vo­cate for a “In fa­vor of the ques­tion/yes” vote on Novem­ber 6th. The fol­low­ing rea­sons ex­plain why we are ded­i­cated to shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about and pro­mot­ing the bond ref­er­en­dum to the Rich­land Two com­mu­nity. As with any bond ref­er­en­dum, there may be a few projects not in­cluded in this bond that some peo­ple may want, and there may be a few in­cluded projects that some peo­ple may think are un­nec­es­sary. But, there are so many ur­gent, nec­es­sary and im­por­tant projects in this bond, that we can­not put our stu­dents’ lives and ed­u­ca­tion at risk wait­ing for what some may con­sider a “per­fect plan” (which is an im­pos­si­ble task to sat­isfy all). We are ex­tremely con­cerned about safety and se­cu­rity of our chil­dren and all Rich­land Two stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff. We know that, un­for­tu­nately, it is not re­al­is­tic to guar­an­tee pre­ven­tion of all pos­si­ble tragedies at Rich­land Two schools. How­ever, we do feel that elim­i­nat­ing por­ta­ble class­rooms, se­cur­ing front lob­bies, all out­side doors locked, and up-to-date se­cu­rity cam­era sys­tems are mea­sures that must be in­stalled by the dis­trict to help pro­tect all stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff. We also want roofs that do not leak, func­tion­ing air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems, and safe and re­li­able buses. The largest com­po­nent of the ref­er­en­dum (more than 60%) will pay for these types of safety and se­cu­rity im­prove­ments at schools through­out the dis­trict, in­clud­ing crit­i­cal up­grades and main­te­nance to ag­ing build­ings and rebuilding three of the old­est schools in the dis­trict (For­est Lake El­e­men­tary, Bethel-han­berry El­e­men­tary and E.l.wright Mid­dle), each ap­prox­i­mately 50 years old. We want qual­ity and eq­ui­table ed­u­ca­tion for our chil­dren and for all stu­dents in ev­ery school in the dis­trict. We feel con­fi­dent that Rich­land Two uses the avail­able fed­eral and state fund­ing to hire, train and mo­ti­vate the best teach­ers, guid­ance coun­selors, prin­ci­pals, so­cial work­ers, and sup­port staff in the Mid­lands. How­ever, twenty-five per­cent of the dis­trict’s schools and fa­cil­i­ties are 50 years old or older and an­other twenty per­cent are be­tween 20 and 50 years old. With­out a bond ref­er­en­dum, the dis­trict does not have fund­ing to prop­erly ad­dress the in­fra­struc­ture needs of these ag­ing fa­cil­i­ties. With salar­ies and ben­e­fits mak­ing up 90% of the dis­trict’s an­nual op­er­at­ing bud­get, and util­i­ties, con­tracts and sup­plies mak­ing up most of the re­main­ing 10%, Rich­land Two does not re­ceive enough fed­eral and state fund­ing to com­plete all of the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture ren­o­va­tions, ex­pan­sions and re­pairs at the 41 schools and cen­ters and five dis­trict fa­cil­i­ties. We be­lieve the dis­trict has done its due dili­gence to care­fully pre­pare a 5-year plan to meet the needs and goals of the dis­trict. Af­ter thor­ough eval­u­a­tions, keep­ing in mind the needs vs. wants of stu­dents, par­ents, com­mu­nity mem­bers and teach­ers, the dis­trict di­vided the ath­letic fa­cil­ity up­grades (in­clud­ing var­sity foot­ball sta­di­ums at Rich­land North­east and Ridge View High Schools) and a Dis­trict Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (which would be cen­trally lo­cated in the Vil­lage at Sand­hills) in a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum ques­tion for the com­mu­nity to vote sep­a­rately. Three points should be con­sid­ered re­lated to the sec­ond ques­tion: First, nei­ther Rich­land North­east nor Ridge View cur­rently has its own var­sity sta­dium and there­fore each has to play all of its “home” games at other schools in the dis­trict. Sec­ond, when com­par­ing Rich­land Two to school dis­tricts in neigh­bor­ing Lex­ing­ton County, none of the Lex­ing­ton County high schools has to share a sta­dium – each of their schools has their own sta­dium. Third, the cost of these two sta­di­ums is less than 4% of the en­tire bond. And, lastly, this sec­ond ref­er­en­dum ques­tion (with all ath­letic fa­cil­ity im­prove­ments and Dis­trict Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter) will only pass if both ques­tions pass. Ad­mit­tedly, the fund­ing re­quested in the bond ref­er­en­dum will have a small im­pact on tax­pay­ers. We be­lieve that this small in­vest­ment (ap­prox­i­mately $6/month for the av­er­age tax­payer in Rich­land Two) is worth this in­vest­ment to pro­vide our stu­dents a safe, qual­ity, and pro­gres­sive en­vi­ron­ment in which to learn. It is im­por­tant to note that re­search shows that pass­ing a school bond ref­er­en­dum con­trib­utes to in­creases in home prices, which would off­set the in­crease in taxes and is an im­por­tant fac­tor for all home­own­ers. And, con­struc­tion projects funded by the bond ref­er­en­dum would cre­ate jobs and sup­port the lo­cal and state econ­omy. The safety and se­cu­rity of our stu­dents, as well as func­tional and com­pet­i­tive fa­cil­i­ties needed for a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, are ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tions for vot­ers in Rich­land Two. We ask you to cast your bal­lot from fact-based in­for­ma­tion and thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the bond pack­age it­self, and we hope that you will vote “In fa­vor of the ques­tion/yes” on the bond ref­er­en­dum for the sake of our stu­dents! Please vote #Yes2ourstu­dents on Novem­ber 6th!

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