Commissioners Approve Steps For School Bond Vote -Brevard NC


July 26, 2018

Transylvania County commissioners on Monday approved more of the necessary steps to allow voters in November to approve or disapprove a $68 million bond referendum to make major renovations at Rosman Middle and Brevard and Rosman high schools.

During their regular meeting Monday, commissioners approved several bond-related measures to get the referendum on the Nov. 6 general election ballot and held a required public hearing.

Amy Fisher, the mother of a student and a local real estate agent, was the only person to speak during the hearing. She supports the bond and mentioned “how important having excellent schools” is to attracting new families to an area.

“I recognize the importance of making these improvements, not only from the perspective of aesthetics but also safety and to prepare the students of this county to go out into the world with a state-of-the-art education and be ready for what this world has to offer,” she said.

State law requires that commissioners cannot comment for or against the bond’s passage.

Commissioner Mike Hawkins noted this Monday, but he wanted to make a few comments.

He said it should be remembered that the bond is “one component of the schools’ capital needs.”

The bond referendum will address Rosman Middle and Brevard and Rosman high schools, but another roughly $30 million in needs have been identified for other schools in the county.

“It is my opinion that these needs are valid,” Hawkins said. “It’s important that we have quality facilities for our students. If we have quality facilities for students, it sends a message that we care and that we expect them to care. If we don’t have quality facilities, that sends a message as well.”

Last fall, Hawkins said commissioners and school board members had various conversations about the system’s capital needs and the best path forward.

He said his “takeaway” from those conversations was that the “scope” of the needs is “massive” and is “bigger than anything any of us have ever done.”

“Because it’s so massive, it’s important that it’s thought through carefully,” Hawkins said.

He mentioned one idea discussed was to spend a couple of years laying the groundwork on the bond

School officials decided, he said, because of the needs at Rosman and Brevard high schools that they “couldn’t wait.”

“I get that,” Hawkins said.

He said he appreciated the conversations with the school board and their “inclusiveness.”

The school system, Hawkins said, will soon start a campaign on the bond.

“The gist of that campaign, if it’s going to be successful, needs to deal with a what, a why and a how,” he said.

The “what” would specifically lay out the project, he said, “why” it’s important, and would explain to students and parents how the renovations would “prepare (students) for life in the 21st century.”

“If we can do those things in this education campaign, then I think the bond has a good chance to succeed,” Hawkins said. “Even if the bond doesn’t succeed, that doesn’t mean the needs are going to go away.”

If approved in November, the estimated interest on the bonds over their expected term would be roughly $28.9 million. To pay the principal and interest on the bonds would also require a roughly 11-cent property tax increase.

Commission Chairman Larry Chapman said this would represent a 20 percent increase in the tax rate. He said the “selling job begins” and there is a lot of information that citizens need on this “major, major decision.”

“Nobody is questioning the need,” Chapman said. “The question is how do we get there in some way that is sustainable. That will be the selling job that we all do one way or the other.

“I appreciate what the school board has done. It’s a bold step.”

More from the meeting will appear in Monday’s paper.


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