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Bamberg School District One has a major opportunity to borrow up to $29 million in federal funds, which is part of the stimulus package, to build a new K-6th grade school and make much needed renovations to the existing middle and high schools. In November of 2009, District One Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a resolution calling for the $29 million bond referendum.

Now, the decision will be left up to voters to decide at the polls on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, whether District One Trustees should issue the bonds or not.

In order to vote in this election, you must be a registered voter and reside in Bamberg One School District. If you are not registered, you must register with the county board of registration by February 16, 2010, at the county courthouse.

District One 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. She went on to say the district would pay zero percent interest on the $20 million loan and low interest on the $9million Build America Bonds for the proposed projects with potential savings of $15million in interest.

Borrowing the funds would increase the school district’s millage from the current 64 mills to 123.2 mills over a period of 15 years.

Bond Attorney Bob Damron developed and prepared a proposal of how the loans would increase the millage if the referendum passes. Next year’s millage would be 64, the next year 79.7, the next year 80 mills, and the next year it would increase to 123.2 mills for the next 15 years.

The increased millage of 123.2 would mean the owner of a $50,000 home would pay an additional $118.40 in property taxes annually( less than $10.00 per month) while the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $236.80 more in property taxes annually (approximately $19.73 per month).

“Millage is based on the courthouse assessment value which is lower, not the actual value of a home, which is a lot higher. The average assessed value of a home in District One is $57,000.” said Schwarting.

Schwarting said the timing for the construction and renovation is good because the cost of construction is down 25% to 30% and you get more for the money and the cost could come under the amount of $29 million that has been allocated.

According to Schwarting, the children need a better and safer environment. The school district has done everything to provide security for the children, but with the deteriorating conditions of the schools, it is limited. There is no perfect time for a referendum, she said, but with no interest on the $20 million and low interest on the $9 million, the time has to be now.

"If something is not done now, it will cost a lot more money in the future and you will get less. Whatever the cost in the future, you will pay the $15 million in interest that you will be saving now," said Schwarting.

Schwarting went on to say, "All children are entitled to FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) and as we all know, nothing is for free... If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much...Now is the time to stand up for the children in Bamberg School District One."

There will be a community meeting concerning the referendum on February 15 at 6:30 pm at the Bamberg Civic Center. The public is encouraged to attend.

 
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