What your neighbors are saying….

I’ve mentioned before that we have one of the most involved citizenry in the state! You can’t read The State Newspaper each week without at least a few Letters to the Editor from the Irmo/Chapin area.

In today’s Neighbor’s section, we heard from various community members about the upcoming bond referendum:

VIEWPOINTS
On the upcoming referendum

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JIM GORDON, Chapin, former school board (1981-1985) and father of two District 5 graduates:

“People ought to vote on the merit of the bond referendum and not be misled by (superintendent) Scott Andersen’s comments that property taxes are going down and therefore you ought to vote for it.”

Gordon predicted those with commercial and industrial properties will take on a disproportionately greater burden to foot annual operations costs that go with expansion of schools, adding that “car taxes are going to go through the roof.”

Should the state’s economy take a nose dive, Gordon said he worries that District 5 homeowners could be in for “sticker shock” if state government is forced to rescind the property tax relief it adopted a year ago.

“I think a lot of this district,” Gordon said, “but I’m against wasteful spending. I think there are some things (on the list) that we could do without.”

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JERRY WHITLEY, retired District 5 educator, lives in the Dutch Fork attendance area:

“I’m not going to vote for it. Two years ago, we had a $131.4 million bond referendum and now we’re talking about $256 million. How did it get so big?” Whitley said.

“The way they went about handling this is wrong. More people should have been involved (in choosing the projects on the ballot).”

Whitley said he’s skeptical of the future enrollment projections and thinks the district would have been wiser targeting improvements in areas of the district where the population is more concentrated.

“The location (in the Spring Hill) area where they’re eyeing a new school isn’t the best,” he said. “Some of the (older) schools were built to add on to and they’ve never done that.”

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ROD SHEALY, JR., a political consultant working with a “grassroots committee” that opposes the referendum, an Irmo resident for the past 13 years:

“The broad consensus is that a new elementary school isn’t needed,” Shealy said. “They’ve never offered a rationale for doubling the referendum.”

Shealy said the bond opponents he’s advising “want all the facts. We want a level playing field. It seems like (bond supporters) gloss over things — like enrollment.”

“I’m talking to a lot of people who would vote for the older schools projects,” Shealy said of renovations to existing structures. “Instead, they lumped it all in together and people are concerned about that. The bond referendum seems like everybody’s wish list.”

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LORA LEE DOERRING, Irmo, member of District 5 First and parent with children at Irmo High:

“It’s time. We have needs that have not been addressed,” she said.

Doerring said she’s concerned by students navigating their way through crowded halls and taking classes in portable classrooms.

“That’s how children are supposed to excel in the classroom? I think not,” she said.

She said that parents in the district have to be advocates for the students and consider their safety and their right to a good education.

“We have got to move forward in this district. If we don’t do it now, then when? It’s not going to get cheaper.”

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PHIL STAMECK, Irmo, member of District 5 First and parent of children at Dutch Fork High and Dutch Fork Middle:

“It’s long overdue. We need to plan for the future of this area,” he said.

Stameck said he supports the referendum because it includes both renovations to existing schools and the building of new schools.

“The new educational space is needed as well as providing for the growth in our district’s schools.”

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KAREN OWENS, Chapin, member of District 5 First Committee and mother of children attending Lake Murray Elementary and Chapin Middle:

“It makes better sense to expand existing facilities and to build the proposed high school, middle school and elementary school,” she said.

Owens has lived in the district for about three years and said parents within the district — and those outside the area looking for homes — are aware of the district’s reputation of having some of the best schools in the area.

But as parents continue to move to the area because of the schools, she said, school officials have to accomodate the growth and maintain high educational standards.

Owens said the construction plan, which will roll out over the next 10 years, is neccessary.

“We feel like that’s a better investment than just simply adding all the portables to existing facilities.”

— Compiled by Devon Copeland and Bill Robinson