South Carolina REALTORS® Aid in Winning School Funding Campaign
A strong public-school system is often the backbone of a thriving community. So, when a referendum made the ballot in Beaufort County, S.C, a community that had not had a successful bond referendum in 11 years, Hilton Head Area REALTORS® and the Beaufort Jasper County REALTORS® made it their mission to help the community.
A bond referendum asks voters to approve financing for proposed projects. In Beaufort County, this is the only source of funding for the school district. The district experienced a huge surge in enrollment preceding the last referendum, which, coupled with deteriorating school buildings, made the referendum exceedingly urgent.
Jocelyn Staigar, Government Affairs Director of the Hilton Head Area Association, told the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) “Good schools are a foundation of healthy communities and a key part of our Quality of Life agenda.” In fact, the Washington Post’s article discussing Realtor.com’s Study: For Most Home Buyers, a Good School is More Important Than a Garage or Updated Kitchen indicated that of the 1,000 people surveyed who recently purchased a home, 73% of them thought being within “good” school boundaries was important to their home search. Knowing that a healthy school district would benefit not only local families with school-aged children, but also the community as a whole, these local REALTORS® rallied together to support this initiative.
The Hilton Head Area REALTORS® and the Beaufort Jasper County REALTORS® gathered the support of the community, committed 10% of the funding for the campaign, and applied for an Issues Mobilization Grant through NAR. This grant offers financial assistance to state and local REALTOR® Associations in support of advocacy campaigns and public policy issues.
On Election Day, the referendum passed with more than 70% of the vote. This was due not only to the REALTOR’S® campaigning with online ads and get-out-the-vote initiatives, but also to considerable turn over on the School Board and district-wide reform efforts.
Parent Shannon Bedenbaugh told the Island Packet, “For me [the referendum] means hope. It means a promise for tomorrow. It means classrooms that are manageable. It means not sitting in classes where industrial fans have to be brought in while they’re going through lessons. It means not plugging in a hot plate in science class and having to short out the whole side of the building.”