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Voters may get IPP Phase II referendum

Posted: September 30, 2011 3:32 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County’s voters may get the chance to decide whether the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) moves forward with the second phase of its facilities equalization project. Five years ago, members of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees voted to finance the project’s first phase through a $102 million Installment Purchase Plan (IPP).

KCSD Superintendant Dr. Frank Morgan suggested holding a referendum on Phase II during a Sept. 27 Facilities and Finance Committee meeting.

“It goes without saying that there are some folks in the community that were not especially enthralled with the fact that Phase One was done without a referendum -- I got told that 30 seconds after I got here,” Morgan told committee members. “To pass a referendum, ultimately, we are going to have to over-communicate and educate to make sure that we deal with all of the issues.”

Morgan also suggested conducting a school-by-school review during each future facilities and finance meeting of the estimated costs to renovate or replace each of the district’s 20 schools. After members discusses potential projects, Morgan said, they can develop a preliminary Phase II proposal and hold community meetings in each school for additional input.

“And we had a discussion about swimming pools the other night, so we can talk about a partnership through a referendum with the county to renovate the Battleship Road pool,” he said. “And I know that has generated some discussion in the community about ‘Are we in favor of the YMCA?’ We’re not taking any position on the YMCA. I’m certainly not.”

The more trustees talk about the referendum, Morgan said, the more the public will be educated about it, giving it a better chance to pass.

“If I’ve learned nothing in four years here, it takes a tremendous amount of education to pass a referendum and then implement a referendum,” he said. “Because even if a referendum passes, after it passes the folks who voted against it still have issues.”

Trustee Nissary Wood said that the board will have to do more than just educate the public, they will also have to communicate effectively with parents, as many parents may not be able to attend meetings.

“Also, there’s truly a trust issue in our community and that’s one of the things they’re going to come back and say to us, ‘Well you say you’re going to do this with West Wateree and North Central … but those things haven’t been done and other projects have come in place of that,’” Wood said. “So it goes back to communicating effectively as well as getting our trust with our community.”

Morgan said they can also explore more ways to communicate with the public, including the usage of public access television.

“We’re going to have to take our time, talk about it, and look at all of the angles. If you told me that it would take two years to get to the point where we’re ready to put together a referendum that wouldn’t surprise me,” Morgan said. “Because we’re only going to have one chance to do it.”

Trustee Jim Smith pointed out that the current board has completed upgrades to every part of the county since implementing Phase I of the facilities equalization project.

“So if they don’t have trust in what this board has done with that amount of money, we sure do need to educate them,” he said. “Not just communicate, but educate.”

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