Education

Richland 2, Lexington 1 OK school bonds, Lexington 3 says no

Voters participate in the 2018 midterm elections at Lourie Center Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbia, SC.
Voters participate in the 2018 midterm elections at Lourie Center Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbia, SC. gmcintyre@thestate.com

Update, 9:21 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the final votes from all precincts.

Voters approved school bonds for Richland 2 and Lexington 1 school districts and voted no on a bond for Lexington 3.

There were more than $900 million on the line when voters took to the polls Tuesday. They were deciding whether to allow the three Midlands school districts to take out loans for school improvements and construction.

Richland 2, the largest Midlands school district in the northeast area, sought a $468 million bond. Voters responded yes to two questions: One asking for $380.7 million for safety/security and academic improvements, and another asking to borrow $86.5 million to build two football stadiums, fieldhouses at each district high school and a performing arts auditorium.

There have been four bond referendums in the district since 1999. Three of the four passed.

Lexington 1 is the second-largest school district in the Midlands and the sixth-largest school district in the state. It is home to some 26,800 students and has grown an average of 505 students per year since 2003.

Part of the funds from the $365 million bond will be used to build two elementary schools in the White Knoll and Lexington areas. The money will also be for replacing, relocating and increasing capacity at Gilbert Elementary, Pelion Middle and Lexington Middle.

The largest portion of the bond will be for new schools. The three elementary schools and two middle schools will be built for $210 million total. The rest of the money will be for technology ($27.5 million) and furniture ($15 million) upgrades, as well as renovations and safety improvements ($112.3 million).

Taxpayers can expect to see up to a $54 increase per year in taxes on a home valued at $100,000. Business owners can expect to pay up to $30 more than that a year per $100,000 in property value.

In Lexington 3, by far the smallest district with the least voters, a $90 million bond was rejected. The money would have been used to build a high school to replace 43-year-old Batesburg-Leesville High School and to renovate and expand Batesburg-Leesville Primary School.

District officials said without the bond, they will need to use portable classrooms to accommodate teachers and students.

The bond would have cost an extra $284.70 in taxes a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. For rental properties, businesses and vehicles, that tax would have ballooned to $427.05 per year, per $100,000 in value.

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Richland 2 school bond

Question 1

Yes 31,825

No 17,126

(48 of 48 precincts reporting)

Question 2

Yes 31,560

No 21,264

(48 of 48 precincts reporting)

Lexington 1 school bond

Yes 26,692

No 20,610

(49 of 49 precincts reporting)

Lexington 3 school bond

Yes 1,521

No 2,497

(8 of 8 precincts reporting)

Correction, Nov. 7, 2018: This story previously stated there are 26,300 students in Lexington 1. There are 26,800 students, according to district counts. The new elementary schools in Lexington 1 will be built to serve the White Knoll and Lexington areas, not the River Bluff area.

Cueto can be reached at 803-771-8621, @isabellacueto
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