Guest Editorial: I can’t support $428M school bond

I attended the July School Board meeting when the Superintendent Baron Davis and the Board voted unanimously to remove the “absolute prohibition” from the by-laws that prevented board members from benefitting financially from their dealings with the school district. The district instead reverted to the state purchasing guidelines which have much more flexible acquisition procedures. For me, this fact alone is enough to vote no for the bond; however, it is not the only reason I personally do not support the bond. The following are a few of my other concerns:

Meisner

The Board has failed to address school zoning lines which in my opinion is the major source of the shortfall in this category. To me, it makes no sense to bus students from Parklane, Summit and Lake Carolina to Blythewood.

The School Board’s numbers are consistently suspect. One example is that the Richland County Assessor and County Council do not even determine the millage rate or the school budget until October, but the district is quoting an average family will only spend an extra $6 dollars a month (if the bond passes), but if the millage increases or the Council gives the district more money the tax increase could be higher. Another example is the Superintendent reported that 88% of students participate in the arts to support his requested arts center. When pressed, the superintendent acknowledged this percentage includes elementary art class participation. Really? How can the district afford an arts center when the education numbers continue to decline? Some neighborhoods such as Gregg Park are trying to leave the district all together in favor of District One schools. I never thought parents would prefer Richland School District I as opposed to Richland School District II, but apparently some parents do.

The astonishing monthly expenditures on the district credit cards (sometimes reaching over $400,000 in a month, like in Feb of 2018) could offer a source of savings and redirection of funds. Particularly with charges from places like 23 and Me, grocery stores, and flower shops. The district seems to have plenty of money.

The above reasons and many others make it impossible for me to support the bond referendum and a school district that seemingly already overspends. No bond, no bail for district two.

Comments

  1. Johna N Trawick says

    Ms. Meisner, thank you for being brave enough to write this Op-Ed. So many people are afraid to speak up on this issue out of fear of looking like the bad guy. There are good things that good taxpayers in this District will support, but there is too much waste in this version of the referendum. Hopefully this one will not pass, and they will make this smaller, smarter, and get rid of all of the extras like Lexington One has done with their referendum. There is a great Facebook page that folks can like about this issue from the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers: https://www.facebook.com/Northeast-Taxpayers-for-Safer-Schools-1274626742678820/

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