“Since I don’t have any kids in the school system, why should I care about the sales tax referendum that will be on the ballot in November? Why should I care about the school board candidates?”

If you would like a self-serving reason, then consider that the quality of our educational system impacts your property values. A school district that does not produce educated, competent graduates impacts the value of our homes.

Looking at the bigger picture, we should all support a school system that produces outstanding young people who will lead constructive lives. Everyone benefits when students graduate from high school prepared to further their education or be productive employees.

Our group, Citizens Advocating Responsible Education (CARE), was formed last fall after the scandal that erupted when the Beaufort County Superintendent of Schools changed the nepotism policy and hired his wife for a $90,000-a-year administrative job.

Representatives of CARE attend school board meetings and hosted a listening tour to get feedback from citizens on the proposed sales tax.

We have interviewed all of the school board candidates and have published candidates’ responses to our policy questionnaire.

We have done considerable research and urge voters to vote “no” on the two questions on the Nov. 8 ballot related to the school district for three primary reasons:

  • Need: The school district is proposing a 1 percent increase in the sales tax for 10 years to finance new schools and renovations, yet they only have data for five years. Looking beyond five years is not fiscally responsible. The district’s own numbers indicate that capacity in our schools exceeds enrollment, even five years from now. So there is no rush to build new schools.
  • Cost: The projects to be financed total $217 million, but the sales tax increase is expected to generate more than $300 million, leaving a slush fund of almost $100 million.

The school district claims that full-time residents will see their property taxes reduced by 42 percent, but they don’t tell you that the ballot language does not specify any amount. So there’s no guarantee.

A sales tax is a regressive tax, hitting those on fixed incomes and low incomes the hardest.

  • Trust: The nepotism scandal continues to haunt the school district. The Superintendent pled guilty to two ethics laws violations. He was ordered to pay $3000 and was publicly reprimanded by the State Ethics Commission.

Voters today do not trust Washington insiders, and locally this mistrust has been fueled by the actions of the Superintendent and the lack of oversight by the majority on the school board.

In conclusion, although CARE supports education, we cannot support this irresponsible plan.

Keep in mind that not a penny of this $300 million would go into the classroom to improve students’ academic performance.

This plan is for capital projects only, not for teachers, books or reading specialists.

Familiarize yourself with the candidates running in your district. You can find a link to their policy platforms on CARE’s website: www.carebeaufort.wixsite.com/care and on our CARE Facebook page.

Richard Bisi is co-founder of CARE. Co-founder Rebecca Bass also contributed to this editorial.