Gaston Co. voters approve $250 million school bond referendum, sales tax increase

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Tuesday, Gaston County voters approved a $250 million bond referendum, with the money going to 49 school projects.

Gaston County Schools Superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker released a statement about the bonds passing:

With the bonds being approved by a significant margin, it is clear that voters care about the schools in Gaston County, and they want the best schools for our children.

Also on the ballot was a quarter of a cent sales tax to help pay for the bond package, which passed as well. Leaders say this means for every four dollars shoppers spend they will pay an extra penny.

Parents said on Monday they don't mind the sales tax increase.

"I look at it this way. I have six children. Do I value my money more than my children - No. And it's a tiny percentage," Gaston County parent Sandi Heavener said.

The $250 million will be broken down like this -  $115 million will go towards renovations and repairs, $110 million will go to new school construction, and $25 million will go to school additions. If approved a new elementary school will go in southeast Gastonia area, a new middle school in Belmont and another new middle school will be built to replace one of the old middle schools.

Most of the repairs will consist of the older schools getting new HVAC systems. Lowell Elementary School principal Kristen Kiser says if the bond is approved her school will get a new HVAC system.

"The system is old so it causes condensation in our ceiling and in our roof - so it produces leaks," Kiser said.

The principal says students have had to wear coats and gloves in the classrooms because there have been issues. Kiser believes teachers get the best out of their students when they are in comfortable conditions.

"When kids and teachers are warm when it's cold and when they are cool when it's hot - it's a much better learning environment," Lowell Elementary School principal Kristen Kiser said.

The money will also go to beef up security at schools -better cameras, intercoms and alarms will be installed at several schools.

"Safety is something that's very important on my mind." Gaston County School parent Sandi Heavener said.

Leaders say the sales tax increase will generate about $6 million a year to help pay for the bond referendum. The last time a bond referendum passed for Gaston County Schools was back in 2007.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.