Students and teachers in Lexington 2 can look forward to upgraded school facilities, as voters Tuesday approved by a nearly 2-to-1 margin a $225 million bond package.
But in Kershaw County, voters rejected by a narrow margin a $130 million proposal for school improvements, along with a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase that would have paid for the facilities improvements without raising property taxes.
The proposal in Lexington 2, which will improve some of the Midlands’ oldest school facilities, includes more than $93 million to build four new facilities, among them a district performing arts center and two elementary schools that will consolidate several existing schools. Another $60.3 million will renovate the district’s existing facilities, the average age which is more than 56 years old.
Construction and renovations are expected to be completed in the next five years.
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“We are extremely pleased that the citizens of Lexington School District Two voted in favor of the bond referendum, which will enable us to improve all of our facilities,” district superintendent Venus Holland said. “Obviously, despite our hopes that the bond referendum would pass, we had concerns that surfaced along the way. Despite our efforts to provide information, many voters thought that our referendum question was related to the Lexington County penny tax question.
“We were concerned that this type of confusion might have a negative impact.”
In Kershaw County, the bond money would have gone toward building four new elementary schools, renovating three high schools and making additions and renovations to two middle schools, while closing three small elementary schools. The plan also included a rebuilt technology center and $9.4 million in athletics projects.
The outcome was a disappointing one for Ben Connell, chairman of the Kershaw County Citizens for Children organization, which had urged voters to “vote yes twice” to fund the school improvements with a sales tax that would expire rather than raising property taxes.
“These are things that have to be addressed for a 21st-century school district if we want Kershaw County to grow and attract industry and have people want to put their kids in the schools,” Connell said. “All it’s done is kick the can down the road for how these projects that are essential are to be completed.”