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$29 million Bond Referendum Print E-mail

The decision will be left up to voters to decide at the polls on Tuesday, March 16, 2010,whether District One Trustees will issue the $29 million bonds to build a new K-6th grade school and make renovations to the existing middle and high schools. Bamberg School District One has the opportunity to borrow up to $29 million in federal funds, which is part of the stimulus package.

Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting said Bamberg One was the only district in the state to receive full allocation for the funds because of the deteriorating condition of the schools. Schwarting went on to say the district would pay 0 percent interest on the $20 million loan and low-interest on the $9 million Build America Bonds for the proposed projects with potential savings of $15 million in interest.

Borrowing the funds would increase the school district’s millage from the current 64 mills to as much as 123.2 mills for citizens in Bamberg School District One.

In an interview on Friday, House District 90 Representative Bakari Sellers said that he supports the Bond Referendum. “I support the March 16th referendum. At no other point in time will this opportunity come again…$20 million at 0 percent interest. The longer we wait… the more expense. Time will cost us more money. Quality schools will mean more incentive for Bamberg County to recruit more industry…a quality place for our kids to go to school…more infrastructure in place. Now is the time,” said Sellers.

CEO of Phoenix Specialty, Bob Hurst, says he is in favor of the referendum. “Basically, yes, I am in favor of it. It is in our best interest. The district’s buildings need improvement. All three of my sons graduated from Bamberg One. We need a good facility for the children; I don’t think it will run off industry,” said Hurst.

“Education is the gateway to the American dream. If you don’t get it, you can’t compete.

The March 16th Bond Referendum is an investment in education and it is the best thing that we can do. Bamberg needs to be competitive in the 21st Century job market. Yes, I support the referendum,” said Senator John Matthews.

On another note, Steve Linder of Ehrhardt, “Taxes are going to double…People without big incomes won’t be able to make it.”

Drema Carter of Ehrhardt, "I just don't feel like the money is such that people in Bamberg County can afford it. Someone is going to have to pay for it. The older people are on fixed incomes and some of the young people are too. It is about the money."

Billy Still, a Bamberg business owner, "I just hope they have a plan to pay for it."

Jeff Lewis of Ehrhardt IGA, "I am for it. According to what I have been told, it is the cheapest way to get a new school built. Our children are our vested interest. I am willing to make the sacrifice for them."

Raymond DeRienzo, another businessman, "I don't think we can stand any more taxes...the economy and the timing is bad. We need the new school, but not the additional taxes. I don't know where the people are going to get the money. Small businesses are having it hard right now...I see it in my business...People are struggling."

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