No new taxes in school plan headed toward referendum

The Lexington County School District Three School Board could be one step closer to unfurling a new bond referendum for this November’s election day – and the good news is, according to the district’s hired planners, the $50 million plan can be achieved with no new taxes.

The school board met Tuesday during a special called meeting for an update on the price tag and scope of work on a proposed referendum that could be on the ballot in four months alongside the 2020 presidential election, a U.S. Senate race and a choice for the 2nd Congressional seat in the U.S. House.

David Loadholt of the DSG Group, a consulting firm in West Columbia, outlined the possible construction plan that he said can be accomplished without a millage rate increase and thus, no new tax burden for voters in Lexington Three. The total price tag for the construction and renovation effort would come in around $49.9 million.

That plan would include around $33 million for renovations and new construction at Batesburg-Leesville High School, which more than 40 years old. Included in the proposed construction is a 20,000-square-foot addition to the front of the existing school that would include a new media center, band room and administrative officers and an attractive new entryway.

In addition, a new 30,000-square-foot career and technology wing is proposed that would connect directly to the existing school and provide new instructional space for CATE students.

Renovations and new construction at the existing primary, elementary and middle schools also would be included in the final cost.

In order to be on the November ballot, the referendum question will have to be approved and submitted to the state election officials by Aug. 15. The project planners are working to bring the final proposed ballot question to the Board at its scheduled August meeting (Aug. 11).

A new bond referendum would come just two years after a proposed $90 million school facilities referendum was defeated by Lexington Three voters in November 2018. The lower price tag and the absence of a tax increase should bode well for passage of the revisited referendum this November.