Voters say no to $109M bond for Laurens District 55 schools, sup - FOX Carolina 21

Voters say no to $109M bond for Laurens District 55 schools, superintendent responds

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Laurens County District 55 Board of Trustees (Aug. 28, 2017/FOX Carolina) Laurens County District 55 Board of Trustees (Aug. 28, 2017/FOX Carolina)
LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Residents in Laurens County School District 55 overwhelmingly voted no on Tuesday to a bond referendum that would have issued up to $109 million in bonds for the construction of a new high school.

The school district's board of trustees held a press conference in late August to speak out in support of the referendum.

Those in support said the funds for the new school will reduce overcrowding and provide a "21st century educational environment" for ninth through twelfth grade students.

The trustees said if the new school is constructed, Laurens Middle School will be rededicated as a new elementary facility. Some of the district's existing school would "have a new home in separate areas of the current high school campus," a trustee said.

There are three possible locations on the table for the new high school: property across from the current school on Highway 76, property off Raider Road, and property adjacent to the Bi-Lo shopping center. The trustees said there are additional properties that meet their needs if they cannot secure one of these at a fair price.

The trustees said the bonds, if approved, will cost the average family approximately $20 per month in home and personal property taxes.

Unofficial results released shortly after 8:45 p.m. revealed a failed bond referendum. Officials say 1,961 voted in favor and 6,559 were opposed.

After the results were revealed, Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters said the following in an emotional speech:

"Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen:

Several months ago, we embarked on a journey to bring a brighter future to the children of Laurens County School District 55. We never imagined it would be as divisive an issue as it became. While we are very disappointed with the outcome of today’s referendum, there is a greater concern. We feel compelled to call on all the leaders of our communities to come together to find ways to heal the wounds of division that have become so evident.

Black, white, Hispanic, or other; Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, or Independent; we all have a civic duty that has been ignored for too long. Too many stand rigid in their idealism and reluctant to compromise in fear of losing their own relevance. Our founding fathers created this nation through civil discourse and a desire to find common ground for the greater good. A pattern that, until recent decades, has held our nation in good stead and helped build opportunity for the people this nation served.

Now, it is imperative that we, once again, find that common ground and build a brighter bridge to the future. In the weeks ahead, we will be calling on our communities to become true partners in the future of LCSD 55. It is a future that must include greater support, greater access, and greater opportunities for all the children we serve. It is a future that cannot be created in isolation. We must seek to join the greater world around us, to advance our communities into the heart of the 21st century, and to make Laurens County a place we can all be proud to call home. Our public education system is about much more than personal achievement; it is about preparing people to work together to advance, not just themselves but society, as a whole.

As we move forward, we are committed to full community inclusion in our efforts. But, that inclusion requires civility, constructive dialogue, and a common belief in our ability to find righteous compromise as a product of our work. We can be better; we must be better.

Finally, we want to thank the many people who provided both direct and indirect support throughout this experience. The names are too many to mention and their contributions too lengthy to list. We say to each of you collectively, God bless you and may God bless Laurens County School District 55 and all the communities we serve."

Click here to see the school district's Proposed Bond Referendum Information page.

PREVIOUSLY: Bond referendum delay to delay opening of new high school in Laurens Co.

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