Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:

I am a "SPED Mom," and mother of three children in Beaufort County schools. Before you make a decision on your support for the school bond referendum, I want you to know how the referendum can improve schools for special education students.

• Relieving overcrowding. Part of the referendum package adds classroom space to our most crowded schools. Many people don't realize that there are caps on the number of children who can be placed in a self-contained special education (SPED) class. Depending on the grade and the needs of the students, this can be between 5 and 12 students.

Some classes and programs have had to be moved to other schools, because there weren't enough classrooms to accommodate the programs. Adding classroom space will allow more kids to attend their neighborhood school.

• Security upgrades. Every school in the district will receive security upgrades that will improve communications systems. In SPED classes, communication between the teachers, assistants and administration are vital. Teachers need to trust that their phones and radios will work reliably when they call for help.

• ADA requirements. Some older schools in our district have not had major renovations in many years. As a result, they don't meet the most current standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The referendum will fund upgrades to wheelchair accessible doors, larger and more accessible restrooms, and accommodations for people with vision and hearing impairments, to name a few.

I will be voting "yes" on Nov. 5, and I hope you will too.

Lindsay Weller

Bluffton

To the Editor:

The issue of developing Bay Point Island has again been raised. This island should not be developed!

Development would harm a nationally designated Important Bird Area. In the winter, the island shelters up to 8,000 birds. A new study released by Audubon a few weeks ago found that North America has lost almost 3 billion birds since 1970. One reason is loss of habitat.

Birds need good habitat year-round: nesting areas, wintering areas, and areas for rest during migration. We can reverse this loss with positive actions. Developing this island is NOT one of them!

The island is eroding. Developing barrier islands no longer makes sense, especially on the East Coast. On average, sea levels have risen 5 to 8 inches since 1900, accelerating since 1990.

Studies indicate "hot spots" on the East Coast where sea levels are rising faster. Charleston is one, just a short jaunt away by water.

These issues, along with king tides and more severe storms, questions the sustainability of this resort.

Will government flood insurance cover such a high-risk area? Can the developer self-insure? Will they be looking for help protecting their shoreline in the future? If they cannot self-insure after a storm, will they walk away, leaving destroyed buildings to pollute our waterways and shorelines?

This island is accessible only by boat. Sewer, water and emergency response will be very expensive.

Why would Beaufort County approve developing such a fragile ecosystem? Why risk our beautiful coastline, our birds, and our tax dollars to support another high-end resort? Please vote this down!

Paula Smith

Bluffton

To the Editor:

We voted "no" to show our disapproval; now it is time to vote "yes" to show our support!

Like many of you, I voted "no" in the last school bond referendum because I knew it was time for a drastic change.

Since that time, I have had the privilege of working alongside the Beaufort County School District during the referendum planning process.

Over the past months, I have seen a shift in tides that is so exciting! Dr. Herbert Berg, our interim superintendent, laid the framework of how to draft a healthy bond referendum with the concepts of transparency and communication.

Dr. Frank Rodriguez, our new superintendent, has now come in with his sleeves rolled up and has run a marathon of weekly speaking engagements until 9 p.m. almost every night. He is sincere and open and is listening to what Beaufort County is telling him.

Dr. Rodriguez has promised that an independent community committee will be selected to monitor the bond referendum building projects and to report back to the community on a regular basis throughout the construction process.

Many community organizations have come forward in an unprecedented fashion to publicly endorse a "yes" vote for the school bond referendum on Nov. 5. This forward momentum has to be translated into actual votes. Parents, teachers, retirees and local business owners, join me in voting "yes" on Nov. 5 - and remind everyone you know to do the same!

It is our moral and community obligation to put our public support into action!

Shannon Bedenbaugh

Hilton Head Island

To the Editor:

Stop the billboards for advertising on Hwy. 278. Tacky and junky. We do not need that look.

I recently saw a McDonald's billboard on 278 near Home Depot. I contacted people in Bluffton and they said they have a ban on billboards in their jurisdiction streets, but they have no authority up and down 278.

Please, the powers that be need to not let 278 become an advertisement billboard eyesore. I cannot see any benefit to this other than revenue received by whoever.

This needs to be stopped ASAP so we don't become a junky drive to our beautiful beaches.

Trudy Smith

Bluffton

To the Editor:

Have we lost our Bluffton "State of Mind"?

Councilman Fred Hamilton has it all wrong with his exclamation that the 282-home workforce housing project proposed by Village Park Homes is a win-win.

Our mayor, Lisa Sulka, is not listening. Never before has attendance at Bluffton Town Council, negotiating committee, planning and development review committee meetings, and public participation been so intense, yet instead our mayor, in her Oct. 2 op-ed article in the daily newspaper, labels us "old" and "uneducated."

Well, both of them are missing the mark.

This project is a lose-lose for the community. Is Village Park Homes tripling the allowable density under the guise of affordability, using "workforce" merely to increase density, seek discounts of permit and development and fees, and enlarge profits by more than double? You bet! They are seeking to be labeled "heroes" and "saviors."

So, who's winning here?

Certainly not the concerned citizens of Bluffton from Alston Park and The Haven at New Riverside neighborhoods, who have thoughtfully raised concerns about density, traffic, increased runoff, pollution potential, wetland and environmental impacts, school overcrowding, and lack of public transportation. The list goes on.

It isn't about not wanting affordable housing; it's about following the rules and development standards that were established to protect the citizens and our environment.

The council does not owe any development density increase to Village Park Homes, and I certainly hope our leaders are not considering a project just to check off an accomplishment of providing our share of affordable housing in the county.

Better and more viable solutions will come.

Mike Turner

Bluffton

To the Editor:

I am a current senior at Hilton Head Island High School. I am only 17 years old, so I will not be able to vote "yes" on Nov. 5 for the school bond referendum. I decided to do the next best thing, and write to the community members of Beaufort County.

Even though I will be leaving for college in about eight months, I want to tell you why it is so important to me that this upcoming referendum is supported by our community.

It is our responsibility to leave behind a legacy of success, growth and achievement. Legacies are pathways that guide people in future decisions and endeavors.

Children in Beaufort County deserve to be able to go to schools that are safe, that have the technology needed to make them competitive, to not have to eat lunch on the floor, and to not have classes in the library or hallways because of overcrowding and leaking roofs. These students are our future and do not deserve conditions like these.

Beaufort County, please stand up and vote "yes" on Nov. 5. Give students like me a reason to return to Hilton Head to work, live, raise a family, and continue to support Beaufort County.

Now is the moment to ask ourselves: What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind for Beaufort County?

Logan Bedenbaugh

Hilton Head Island

To the Editor:

As a parent of a child that is currently in one of the trailers at a Beaufort County School, I am disappointed that there are people in this community that are not willing to pay an extra $10 a month in taxes to ensure that our children have seats in brick and mortar buildings.

Children in the mobiles lose valuable instructional time traveling between them and the main building, not to mention the safety concerns associated with those units.

Trailers are a waste of taxpayers' money and as effective as applying a Band-Aid to a gaping wound. It's time we support our schools by properly funding them, to ensure that all of the students of Beaufort County have a seat within a brick and mortar building.

In addition to providing needed classroom space at overcrowded schools, that $10 a month will also go towards renovating and maintaining the existing school buildings throughout the county, as well as providing safety and technology upgrades at all district schools.

Please put the students first and provide them with a safe and acceptable learning environment.

Vote "yes" for the school bond referendum on Nov. 5!

Stephanie Rossi

Bluffton

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