The Randolph County Board of Education once again is turning to citizens to help support this community's future: our children. It seeks approval of a $13.5 million bond proposal, on which residents will be asked to vote this November.
The money would be used for school upgrades and repairs, and Randolph County Schools has set up a website to help educate the public about this vital initiative. The site, www.informationonthebondcall.com, is aptly titled Information on the Bond Call.
It cuts to the chase and explains the measure as follows:
The total cost of the community schools projects, including the cost of bond issuance, is $22,722,838. The bond call is for $13.5 million. There will be a requested amount from the School Building Authority of $9,222,838.
The SBA grant and the bond call will be contingent upon one another.
The key components in the schools are: HVAC and electrical upgrades; safety and disability access improvements; a new gym at Tygarts Valley High School and renovation to the middle school area; a new cafeteria and music room at Harman School; a new cafeteria at Beverly Elementary; and installation of air conditioning in Elkins High School's gym.
The improvements put in place by the bond call will return all of these sites and all of the areas included within the schools to full community use and access.
It is tough to simplify this issue for voters and to answer their questions. While the general response to the bond has been positive within the community, some residents are questioning how this differs from the Randolph County Schools excess levy, which passed by 737 votes on the November 2010 ballot. There were 4,531 votes for the proposal and 3,794 against, making it the first measure of its kind to win approval since 1989, The Inter-Mountain reported at the time. The last successful bond call was in 1976.
The $14 million excess levy call was approved to generate $2.8 million a year for five years, with the funds being split among four primary areas: $3 million for school resource allocations; $2 million for partnership programs; $4 million for technology allocations; and $5 million for maintenance.
However, those funds weren't enough to cover the existing, urgent needs within the school district. They also didn't come with the added leverage of SBA monies to maximize a local investment. SBA grants turbocharge local matching funds to allow the most improvements to be accomplished with the least financial burden being placed on taxpayers. The Information on the Bond Call site explains that financial commitment as:
Combining the cost of the bond and the existing levy, the average cost to the taxpayer with a $100,000 home and $50,000 in personal property is $367.60/year. That translates to $1 a day, $7 a week or $30 month.
The tax increase that was attributed to the excess levy only was coupled with an increase done by the assessor that will be reflected in one's tax bill.
We understand how this bond call may worry residents. We also know it likely will prompt questions to which taxpayers will want informed answers. That is why we have to applaud Randolph County Schools for having a series of school-based bond meetings to discuss site-specific projects and provide residents with information they should have to make an equally informed decision come Election Day.
We want to encourage those who have not yet attended one of these meetings to try and make time to do so. Our community's future is at stake. A strong school system is one of the most viable tools a community can have to promote economic development. It can make our area competitive when other markets fail to deliver on quality of life for a potential employer's work force.
Saying yes to the bond means saying yes to ensuring Randolph County is the best it can be for our residents - and that we are an attractive option to those looking to invest in a business opportunity here.
The remaining meetings are set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the following days and locations: Tuesday at Coalton Elementary; Wednesday at Harman School; Thursday at Beverly Elementary; and Oct. 10 at Elkins High School.
Then, voters can make a decision based upon knowing the facts - not rumors about the bond - and their personal feelings on the issue. That's all we or the bond committee can ask of the responsible citizens who call Randolph County home.