Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The Charleston County School Board approved prioritization of capital projects for the Nov. 4 referendum to extend a 1 percent sales tax last week.
The board moved to approve the priority list as published, with the addition of moving “advance design for replacement of a ninth- through 12th-grade high school to replace Lincoln High School at a site to be determined” onto the core projects list.
The final list of 30 building projects totals $503 million.
Key East Cooper projects include a new elementary school at Carolina Park and a new high school in Mount Pleasant.
In addition, school officials want to partner with town officials to construct and share a stadium.
Other communities have done this successfully, Charleston County School Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley told the Moultrie News.
“The Town of Mount Pleasant really has set standards for district and town cooperation,” she said.
“The way they have partnered with us on the use of fields, recreation facilities, has been great. But they've also been thought partners in terms of locating new schools and leveraging opportunities.”
She explained that district officials and town officials begin talks long in advance of district projects and in partnership, work out the respective responsibilities in regards to roads, drainage, land and infrastructure.
“The Town of Mount Pleasant values education. In the 10 years I've been here, there have been three different mayors and I have never been disappointed by response received from town leadership,” McGinley said. “We may differ on internal issues but as far as education, the town is lined up behind us.”
Those types of partnerships, she said, have resulted in world-class schools in East Cooper.
Dr. McGinley said that when voters go to the polls in November to consider the referendum to extend the sales tax, the track record of success is really what the voters should be looking at.
“All previously funded projects have been built on time and at or under budget. The district has been very diligent reusing, refitting and repurposing existing buildings, so we're only going to the tax payers when the need and growth is there,” she explained.
And that need to build new facilities usually is only when the life of an existing building is over.
“It is more costly to replace a building and we've been careful with public money and we'll continue to do so,” she said.
“We know that good schools are the highest priority for any parent, and in East Cooper, you have forward-thinking citizens. For them, good schools, good neighborhoods, strong business communities are quality-of-life issues.”
McGinley said that the district continues to move in the right direction academically and the building program will too.
“At the polls, people will be voting for the future and voting to continue Charleston's growth of one of the best school districts in America.”
Bill Lewis retired as COO of Capital Programs for the Charleston County School District (CCSD) last week.
His parting words to the Moultrie News were, “Our building program, first and foremost, supports the academic vision and master plan for the district, and in doing so, we build facilities to support the academic mission.”
The building program has responded to what parents want as well as the growth in each community – that has been the priority, he said.
“When I look at the projects in the building program, you see that they align to those priorities, and I'm very proud of that,” added Lewis.
“The board has been rigorous about meeting growth initiatives or programmatic needs and often times both for one facility. It's all data driven, and I have made that data available to board members, district leaders and community members and there is consensus in it.”
Michael Bobby, chief financial officer for the Charleston County School District, said the projects are not prioritized in any order.
The Charleston County School Board will prioritize the list at a later date, he said.
The 1 percent sales tax is set to expire in 2016. If voters approve the tax again, it will be extended through 2022.