School board members react to ‘no vote’ on Bond Referendum

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7 percent – that’s how much overcapacity Prichardville Elementary was last year.

That, the packed classrooms at River Ridge Academy and May River High, and the claims of a possible 1000 more students in the Bluffton area in the next five years didn’t change voters minds.

72 percent – a near record margin for a School Referendum in the state, still voted against a referendum which would have allowed the school system to borrow $76 million, for a new school in Bluffton, increasing the size of two others, and new buildings for Career Advancement Training Academies in three other high schools.

“Very sad,” said Eva Anderson of the Beaufort County School Board. “Sad for our parents, sad for our kids. Doesn’t change the fact that our kids are overcrowded, our teachers have too many kids in the classroom.”

The first question most folks had was, why did it fail?

“Because they lost confidence and trust in the Superintendent and the school board majority,” said Christina Gwozdz of the Beaufort County School Board.

“How hard is that for you to understand?” News 3 asked.

“Not hard for me to understand at all. I agree with them,” she answered.

Gwozdz also brought up the FBI investigation into the last two schools built in the County, May River and River Ridge, which both came in significantly over budget. Superintendent Dr. Jeffery Moss’s admission of guilt to ethics violations she says also came into play for many voters.

The next question is, what happens next for the board – and the schools?

“I think the next step toward regaining that trust is to bring in a third party independent consultant to look at our current needs our future needs,” said school board member Joseph Dunkle. “And see what we can address by rezoning and see where we need to grow schools and build new schools.”

School board member John Dowling said they are aware of the problem and will make efforts to solve it.

“People in the majority make a solution that is best for the children and not necessarily for the political survival of the superintendent, then we can come together,” said John Dowling, Jr.

From rezoning to more portable classrooms, the Board of Education will now have to decide on exactly what will happen next for those schools and the rest of the District.

The next big day for the entire Board may be in November. Seven school board members are up for reelection and if this weekend is any idea of what could come next, they could all be in for a big fight.

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