Aiken County Board of Education members have agreed on the two questions that will appear on the ballot in November general election – asking voters to approve a one-cent sales tax increase to raise revenue for accelerated construction and renovation at specified schools.
The Aiken County Registration and Election Office must receive the documents by Friday to get them on the ballot.
The state Board of Economic Advisors has estimated the Aiken County School District will receive $125,000,000 in sales tax revenue over 10 years. That's not the total revenue. From the total, 10 percent will go toward property tax relief. Of the 90 percent remaining, the district will be required to set another 10 percent aside as a contingency, if needed over the next decade.
While the sales tax questions are getting another hurdle out of the way, said Board member Richard Hazen, “It's very complicated. We're going to have to do a much better job to get these questions explained to voters.”
Board members Ronnie West and Wesley Hightower agreed. Ultimately, the sales tax option will come down to a community decision, Hightower said, but the questions on the ballot must be clarified.
West considers it unfortunate that voters will find the documents in legal language that will be hard to understand.
“We'll have to come out and beat the bushes and tell people what it says,” he said.
The School District has about 3,000 employees, and the Board members and other speakers will make presentations to as many of the employees as possible.
Board member Ray Fleming said he's encouraged that Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and her staff are putting together a comprehensive schedule for all the people who work for the School District. The intent is to give them the facts and information as to where the facilities stand.
“Those are the folks that have to work in those facilities day after day,” Fleming said. “They are the ones who will get questions from parents about what are the needs. Therefore, they will be in a position to state what the needs are and to have the accurate information. These meetings are really key to inform all the members of our staff.”
In other business, students will arrive for the first day of school on Monday. Following the meeting, Deputy Superintendent David Caver said two schools will be ready to go that day. A new middle school located on the Ridge Spring-Monetta High School campus is ready to accept students. Also ready is Greendale Elementary School, which has gone through some major repairs this summer. Teachers got into the facility this week, Caver said.
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter.
Editor's note: The estimated amount to be received in sales tax revenue over 10 years was incorrect in an earlier version of this article. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.