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