A $30 million school bond referendum passed with 65 percent of the votes in Stafford County last week. But before it can be finally approved, the referendum has one small hitch to overcome.

For a referendum to be valid in Virginia, the state requires that a court order approving the referendum appear in a local newspaper 10 days before the voting date.

Stafford County's court order for the school bond referendum did not appear in the local newspaper, the Free-Lance Star, until four days before the Aug. 18 vote.

"I don't know why the court order didn't appear on time," said Carolyn Taylor, chairwoman of the county's School Board. "But there were a lot of ads in newspapers and on the radio about the referendum. It was well publicized. We're hopeful that there won't be any problem with the validity."

The Board of Supervisors, which passed a resolution in favor of the bond issue before the referendum, has hired a Richmond law firm to file documents with the Circuit Court in an effort to validate the results.

Only 5,143 voters, slightly less than 26 percent of Stafford's 19,880 registered voters, voted on the school bond referendum.

Of these, 3,384 favored the county issuing up to $30 million in general obligation bonds to repair five schools and build two new ones within five years.