School bond decision should be based on facts
This letter is written on behalf of Okolona students who do not have a voice or a vote in the upcoming school bond election. Our students need your voice, your support, and your vote in favor for passage of the school bond issue set for Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. I have witnessed a tremendous effort from all students in striving to reach the lofty goals set forth by the Okolona School Board, District administrators, and teaching staff. It has become very evident that the Okolona School District has already made great strides academically based on recent State test results.
I have witnessed as Superintendent of Education that our students deserve so much more than what they have been given in our school district. They deserve to attend public schools that have adequate heating and air conditioning. They deserve to learn in classrooms that do not have leaking roofs. They deserve to learn in classrooms that are not over-crowed due to limited classroom space. They deserve to have access to playground equipment that will keep them safe from harm and injury when playing. Our student athletes deserve to play on a new football field and train in a sports complex that will allow them to better compete for college scholarships.
As parents, we work tirelessly to provide our children with the basic necessities of life. The School Board and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that your sons, daughters, grand-children, nieces, nephews, cousins, and all Okolona students learn in schools that provide basic educational necessities for receiving an appropriate and worthwhile education. Never again, do we want to face making a decision whether to close schools due to very frigid temperatures. Our students, our children deserve better than that! Never again, do we want to hear rain, and become worried about rain leaking into our buildings, classrooms, and hallways. Never again, do we want to see students, parents, and community members come to our schools for special programs and events and have to endure the sweltering heat in our gyms and cafeterias due to old air conditioning units’ not working. Never again, do we want to see basketball players playing in a cold gym due to heating units not working. Our students deserve better than that! That’s what this school bond election is really about, it’s about providing our students, our children with the same learning environment that can be found in other school districts across our state and throughout our great nation.
There are many rumors that are running rampant throughout our community by naysayers who opposed the bond election:
Rumor #1: A facility audit was conducted on the three-story building by New Path Consultants, to my surprise, it was reported that the three-story building is structurally sound and safe for district use.
Rumor #2: Officials with the Office of Civil Rights as well as the Mississippi High School Athletic Association are both in agreement that the Okolona School District should play football games at the new football field. The new football field meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The football field located at Wilson Park does not meet ADA standards.
Rumor #3: It has been reported that the school district is seeking 40 million dollars from the bond election. That is absolutely false. Our school district does not have the bonding capacity to build new schools or request such an outrageous amount.
We are requesting a bond that will cost tax payers approximately $98.00 on average per year for the owner of a $100,000.00 home and a $15,000.00 car that equals only approximately $8.00 per month. If you are 65 and older and or totally disabled, you will be exempt from tax on the first $75,000.00 value of your home.
The bond package may include replacing heating and air conditioning units, repairing and replacing roofs where needed, renovating buildings, constructing playground, possible classroom additions, buildings and grounds improvements, constructing football field house, and fencing football field.
Rumor #4: It has been reported that the Superintendent of Education wants to see the bond issue pass so that he may get a pay raise. That is absolutely false. Neither the Superintendent of Education nor district employees will reap financial benefits from passage of a school bond issue.
Only registered voters residing in the Okolona School District may vote in the bond election. District residents residing in the city of Okolona will vote in the library located at Okolona High School. District residents residing outside the city limits (East Chickasaw County and extreme West Monroe County) will vote at Okolona Elementary in the three-story building at the Parent Center.
In concluding, our students deserve better than what they have been given. Since we are no longer under the rule of a conservator, now is the time that we make positive changes that will ultimately affect students in the Okolona School District. Please vote in favor of passing the school bond issue to better support well deserving students who attend schools in Okolona.
Superintendent Dexter Green
Okolona School District
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