Spartanburg School District 5 moves forward with bond referendum

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SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg School District Five is moving forward with a bond referendum that they say would help fund the district’s enormous enrollment growth and its effect on schools and facilities.

“If you have been in this area, in this community, you have seen the growth,” Spartanburg School District Five Superintendent Dr. Randall Gary said. “We’re bursting at the seams.”

It’s hard to hide the growth that’s going on in Spartanburg District Five.

“You can see the subdivisions coming up all over,” Dr. Gary said. “If you’ve driven the highways and byways, you’ve seen the traffic at dismissal and arrival in the mornings.”

And when it comes to enrollment, the school district said they’re seeing the highest numbers in their history.

As of Monday, nearly 9,800 students were enrolled in District Five schools.

“From when school ended last year to yesterday, we’ve grown by over 700 students,” Gary said. “We’re definitely the fastest growing district in the county, and probably one of the fastest in the state, percentage-wise.”

But all of this growth is taking a toll on the district’s schools and buildings, with some having to resort to portable classrooms.

“It hasn’t negatively impacted our class sizes yet; however, as far as space and capacity goes, it is really becoming a challenge,” Dr. Gary said.

It doesn’t help that the district is expecting to have 11,000 students by the year 2025.

“We know that by the year 2024-25, 10 of 12 our schools will be beyond capacity if we don’t do something to address that growth,” Gary said.

That’s why the district will be going to voters with a bond referendum in Novemer.

Here’s the good news: the referendum will not increase taxes for District Five taxpayers.

Instead, it will ask voters permission for the district to borrow beyond its allowable debt limit–something that is restricted in South Carolina unless voters approve it.

“We’re going to let the growth of the community help pay for this. In addition, our millage is at a point right now that if we were to spread that out over 20-25 years, we could pay for this project without an increase,” Gary said.

If passed, the referendum would allow District Five to borrow money to help build two new schools–one elementary school and one middle school–while renovating and adding on to existing campuses, like Wellford Academy, Reidville Elementary School, and Byrnes High School.

“There is no doubt this community will continue to grow. There are so many great things. Jobs are here, families are moving, and we have great schools,” Gary said. “People know about Spartanburg District Five schools, and we’re glad that they want to be here; but we want to make sure that we prepare for that growth, so that we’re ready when they arrive.”

District Five’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday night to add the bond referendum question to the general election ballot on November 2nd.

If it’s approved, the district said their goal is to be in the new facilities by the year 2024-25.

For more information about the bond referendum, click here.

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