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Why the March 19th Fort Mill School Bond Referendum is a Smart Vote forthe Future

This is part of our Community series. Submit your story here.

Submitted by John Gordon, Jan Martin, Travis Mayo- Whether you’ve called this area home for three years or thirty, you can’t deny the incredible transformation happening around us. We enjoy a fantastic climate, close proximity to Charlotte, and numerous local amenities - no wonder we’re booming with growth. But above all, it's our excellent schools that attract so many new residents. Due to this unprecedented growth, the Fort Mill School District (FMSD) is projected to reach its overall student capacity in 2028, with some elementary and middle schools already operating at maximum capacity.

The proposed Fort Mill School Bond Referendum on March 19th is the recommendation from the District Administration and School Board on what is needed to Keep Our Schools Strong in the face of impending growth. It totals $204 million and will be financed by a tax increase of no more than 15 mils on real and personal property – this equals an increase of $240 in property taxes for a house located in the Fort Mill School District assessed at $400,000. According to South Carolina law, when public school districts need to build or enhance facilities, they must issue bonds approved through a referendum.

The two largest components of the referendum are a new Middle School and Early Childhood Center. The new Middle School will address immediate capacity issues and eliminate the need for trailer classrooms and enrollment freezes. The Early Childhood Center will be the first stand-alone facility in the district to serve pre-kindergarten students. This exciting new facility will add 750 seats of full-time, no-cost pre-K education to families in the district. Not only will it bring childcare savings to hundreds of families, but it will also ensure more children are kindergarten-ready. Based on the state administered Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, only 53% of our students are assessed as ‘ready’ when they enter kindergarten. The new Early Childhood Center will close that gap and ensure more children start school ready to receive a high quality FMSD education.

In addition to new schools, the bond package will fund critical upgrades and maintenance to aging buildings, technology needs, and land for future schools.

FMSD has a proven track record of demonstrating it’s an excellent steward of taxpayer money, providing some of the highest quality public education in the state while spending less per student than our surrounding districts. The accolades speak for themselves. FMSD is consistently ranked in the top of all educational indicators in the state, boasting a graduation rate of 95%, which is ten percent higher than the national average. In 2023 alone, FMSD students received over $44 million in scholarships.

Failure to pass this referendum will have significant consequences for our community. We will see the arrival of mobile classrooms, increased class sizes, and higher teacher/student ratios, making it very difficult to attract and retain the best teachers. Without great teachers, the excellence of our schools will deteriorate, likely impacting property values as well.

As we’ve engaged parents, communities groups and civic leaders across the district, we’ve met many supporters who understand the quality of education that is provided by the District and feel strongly that it should continue. To you, we say thank you for your support and urge you to make that view known by voting YES at the polls on Tuesday, March 19th.


Keep Our Schools Strong Committee

John Gordon, Jan Martin, Travis Mayo


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