In a workshop prior the regular meeting of the Dorchester School District Two board Monday, members toyed with the idea of a voter referendum to raise money needed for future and current needs through a one-cent sales tax.
Superintendent Joe Pye repeated several times: "We're just getting (a referendum) out on the table."
The district estimated that current and future facility needs are about $241 million.
While a referendum is not a certainty, now is the time to "strike while the iron's hot; you can't let it cool down," Pye said. According to Pye, construction and building costs are at an all-time low, helping make future needs feasible on a tight budget.
"We are getting significantly further and further behind," Pye said. "We will be criticized in the future."
Speaking at the workshop was Richland School District Two Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis. His district successfully passed a referendum to obtain a $306 million in 2008, in addition to other funds over the last decade.
"(Richland Two) is the district that we often compare ourselves to but there's a lot more money there," Pye said. He added that with their successful referendums, the district is $600 million ahead of Dorchester Two.
Davis gave a presentation on how his district got the votes needed. The last Dorchester Two referendum was for $192 million and it failed in a March vote four years ago, according to Pye.
If Dorchester Two decided to embark on a referendum, Davis suggested they begin courting the public in January, hold the vote along with the 2012 presidential election and make a final push starting in September.
While the district seemed to be exploring a referendum as an option, there was no mention of other funding options for the needed projects during Monday's workshop. However, Pye called the workshop "one of many."
Break-down of Dorchester Two identified facility needs
Unfunded facility needs, such as repairs and rennovations: $43.9 million
New East Edisto schools: $19.5 million
Other new schools, including Pine Trace and Pine Hill): $197 million