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Clover Schools nearly $200 million bond does not pass, district answers what’s next

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -A resounding ‘No.’

That is how voters in Clover responded to the school district’s plan to build new schools by raising taxes.

Just over 70 percent of voters voted to deny Clover Schools a 200-million-dollar bond referendum. If it passed, it would have paid for three new schools district leaders say are needed because of an influx of new students.

A spokesperson says over the past several years the district had been on par with their projections, but unprecedented growth occurred in the last couple of years, including this year.

The new school year has added an additional 500 students above those projections.

Charlene Ridley knows first-hand how overcrowding could affect Clover Schools soon.

”My youngest is at Oakridge and it’s already at capacity so it’s definitely going to be overcrowded,” says Ridley.

Oakridge is one of the worst in the district when it comes to capacities, but Ridley was one of more than 5,600 voters to vote no to the bond referendum that would have helped build a new middle school.

”I want to make sure they are in good schools that are not overcrowded and that they are given the resources that they need to be successful but this doesn’t make me feel like we’re on the right track,” says Ridley.

Since the vote, people have been sharing their feedback with Clover Schools on why they voted against the bond referendum.

The biggest reason they’ve heard is that taxpayers didn’t want to foot the bill.

To be able to pay for the new schools, there was going to be about a 30 percent tax increase for people.

The district has said time and time again that this was a major hike but necessary.

But it wasn’t the only reason. Some people I talked to did not give Clover school leaders the vote of confidence.

Several people have voiced why they voted no. They felt Clover Schools should have taken more time to break down the data, especially the rising population numbers, and use it to show why they needed the schools.

They also said they needed more time to decide after getting the information.

The district did have several town hall meetings and used social media to get the word out about the referendum, but district spokesperson Bryan Dillon says they are considering all of the feedback from the people who voted no.

”We’ll go back, we’ll listen to that more. We’ll continue to move forward. One thing that we can all agree on is Clover is a growing area,” says Dillon.

Since the bond did not pass, Ridley has more questions than answers.

”What’s our next step? Do we go back and look at the data again? Do we figure out where to cut cost if there’s possibilities? Do we propose alternatives? What’s the plan B?” says Ridley.

Spokesperson Bryan Dillon says the answer to all those questions depends on the voters.

”The important part will be getting together and seeing what we can all agree on that is best for our community,” says Dillon.

Since the vote just happened, those discussions are not happening yet. However, they are already preparing more information and town halls to gather public input to have the best chance for next time.

”We’ll have to come back and put together the best package that the community can support,” he says.

But Dillon says the need for schools, especially a middle school, remains. It is the next big focus to determine how to fund the new schools.

”We’ll have to have some short-term solutions that we can work on but I am sure there will be plenty of ideas put down on the table,” he says.

Dillon says the district is positive even with the uphill battle ahead, but Ridley says it might not be hard to convince her and others with the right info.

”If it can be justified and we won’t have to come back for a new bond in three years then I will be more likely to say yes absolutely,” says Ridley.

There is no timeline for when people could start getting more information or when the town halls start again.

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