With the possible exception of community incorporation, this bond referendum may represent the most important community decision the residents of Lake Wylie will make in the next 20 to 30 years.
On March 22, we will be asked to approve or reject a $67 million bond referendum to make up a major portion of a $99 million school capital plan.
I encourage you to vote no.
The school board and Superintendent Marc Sosne have stated a 3,400 student high school will add diversity to high school educational offerings; lower operating costs; and “unify” Lake Wylie and Clover. I believe these contentions are wrong on all counts.
CHS already has a diverse and rich educational offering. Clover High School is ranked highly statewide. Now the board is proposing to radically change and jeopardize what has made the school great by nearly doubling the current population of the school, thus defying overwhelming evidence that doing so will likely destroy what we have. The probability is that even more offerings will take away from the core curriculum, have little student acceptance and add unjustified costs. Beneficial relationships between and among students, teachers, staff and parents will decrease significantly.
Regarding operating cost of our high school(s), most evidence shows cost per graduate is equal or lower in smaller high schools as compared to larger ones due to lower drop-out rates and fewer transfers-out. It may be slightly less expensive to contain students in larger boxes on an annual basis, but are we looking for cheap containers or high quality education leading to graduation?
Dozens of national, statewide, regional and local studies in rural, suburban and urban areas done by major universities, state departments of education including both South Carolina and North Carolina, and various highly-respected independent research organizations all over the United States have shown that high schools with more than 2,000 students have: lower test scores, lower grades, lower graduation rates, and higher drop-out rates; more truancy, and more problems with gangs, substance abuse, bullying and violence; much lower opportunities for participation in extra-curricular activities such as athletics; greatly reduced student-teacher-parent interaction; more levels of bureaucracy and less educational community resulting in decreased student loyalty; decreased likelihood of going on to college and other advanced education; and a significantly lower quality of education.
Regarding community unity, Clover and Lake Wylie are and have been for many years different in character and history. We should be celebrating the unique and desirable characteristics of each, not trying to eliminate them through so-called “unification.”
The board is using deceptive and misleading tactics in the packaging and marketing the referendum. The proposal is structured to make it appear to be an “all or nothing” proposition.
It has been said taxes will not increase because current bonds will mature and go away. The fact is current debt will not be paid off until 2027 (13 years from now), and the new bonds (probably issued in 2017) will likely add as much as 60 percent to the current property tax millage rates for 20 years including 10 years of overlap with current bonds.
The school board admits to having no backup plan. The arrogance of such an ill-considered proposal should be obvious.
For the future benefit of Lake Wylie and Clover, I believe the bond referendum as currently structured, should be soundly defeated.
Don Long is a Lake Wylie resident.