Last updated: April 25. 2014 7:38AM - 1013 Views

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One week from today, if you are a registered voter with an interest in fulfilling your most valued civic duty, the May 6 primary will take place with numerous important decisions to be made for Bladen County.

One of those is the quarter-cent Sales and Use Tax Referendum, which, if passed, would benefit the local school system.

For the past few weeks, the Bladen Journal has been a vehicle for an in-depth series of stories from Valerie Newton, the public relations and information officer for Bladen County Schools, that took a school-by-school approach to map out precisely why the referendum is on the ballot.

We first want to applaud the tremendous amount of effort Newton put into this project. It was every bit as daunting as it was worthwhile.

More importantly, we hope voters took the time to follow the series closely, because after more than 300 newspaper inches (including the finale, which is scheduled for Friday) detailing many of the school district’s needs, there should be no doubt what the results of the vote should be.

Money for education is getting scrutinized at every level just as much as any other budget item, and rightly so. And cuts, seemingly justified or not, have made it more and more difficult to do what is necessary for our students.

While we can urge for better teacher pay, which is another worthy battle, we will first raise our hands in support of this local referendum — because it will go directly to the brick, mortar and accessory needs at the county’s 13 schools. Some of them, as pointed out in Newton’s series, are in poor shape and can hardly be conducive to a good educational environment.

Let’s face it, even with the very best teachers and a dynamite curriculum and all the necessary supplies, a dilapidated school facility will do nothing but drag down the efforts of those teachers, cloud the curriculum, overshadow the abundant supplies and ruin the ability of most students to learn.

Raising money for schools is never an easy task. And even the wildly successful efforts of the Bladen County Schools Foundation recent jail-a-thon, while tremendously important, is merely a drop in the bucket when the needs throughout the district are added up. But this referendum is a fair and easy way to put much-needed money into the coffers, all of it earmarked for facility improvement.

We can’t emphasize enough how important and necessary passage of this referendum is, and hope voters will agree with us on May 6. If you need just a little more convincing, be sure to read Newton’s finale on Friday.

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