Yes4Schools kicks off referendum efforts
More than 100 people, including elected officials, school district staff, and concerned citizens, gathered in an ancient, hot, and stuffy gymnasium for the kickoff of a new grassroots campaign.
Yes4Schools, a citizens group that is actively working to help pass the $179 million school improvement bond referendum for Dorchester School District 2, held one of two kickoff meetings in the gymnasium of Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville.
The rally, hosted by Yes4Schools co-chairs Brian Mitchum, Robby Robbins, and Jan Waring-Woods, was originally slated to be an outdoor event until sudden storms forced a last minute change of venue. Yet the rain hammering on the aged roof of RMSA’s gym may well have helped hammer home the underlying point Yes4Schools is trying to make.
That point is that the district has grown quickly and dramatically, and that growth has significantly outstripped the resources available, and that the district is in dire need of major facilities upgrades, the co-chairs all reiterated.
One important point co-chair Brian Mitchum pointed out is that this referendum is about addressing facilities needs and capital improvements, not operating budgets.
“This is about what they need day-to-day to complete the mission of providing a quality education for our children,” Mitchum said. “We need to do this to give them adequate facilities – and adequate breathing room.”
“We are proud of our school district and we need to show it,” noted Jan Waring-Woods.
“Anyone who doubts the need should pick a school and go visit,” Robby Robbins said.
Summerville Mayor Bill Collins told the group that he is in favor of and will vote for the referendum. On a personal level, his children and grandchildren attended DD2 schools and received a high quality education experience. On a practical level, he noted that an investment in public education is a sound investment in the future on many levels.
“Dorchester District 2 schools are very important to me personally,” Collins said. “They do a great job with very little money. An investment in education is one of the only investments that gives returns for literally generations to come.”
“We have great faculty and administration – and we certainly owe them the courtesy of decent facilities,” he continued.
Rep. Jenny Horne, whose children currently attend DD2 schools, also noted that she and husband Marc would be voting for the referendum.
“We are doing this for Nicholas and Maggie, for our neighbors’ children and grandchildren,” Horne said. “I know you don’t want to pay more taxes – but this is what we should be doing with tax dollars. When we talk about prioritizing needs, education is definitely a prime function of government.”
DD2 Superintendent Joe Pye, appearing on the podium accompanied by little Ella Rae Moniz, pre-school daughter of Yes4School volunteer Brian Moniz, thanked the attendees for being there and reiterated the needs of the district. Alleviating classroom sizes, making much needed repairs, additions, and upgrades, and building four new schools in the next five years are all extremely urgent needs, he said.
“This is why we’re doing this,” he noted, holding Ella Rae in his arms. “The children who will be attending in the future deserve as good or better opportunity as those who have gone through or are there now.”
Mitchum closed the meeting, thanking everyone for attending and encouraging them to get the word out to the public and left the gathering with one final thought.
“Imagine it’s five years from now,” he said. “More people have moved here and are moving here, the economy’s thriving again – and there are no schools.”