TUPELO – Despite a light turnout, the Lee County School District’s bond request passed by a wide margin.
More than 85 percent of the 2,071 voters who cast a ballot on Tuesday supported the school district’s request to issue $13.5 million in new bonds to fund various construction and renovation projects throughout the school district. Voter turnout was 9.21 percent with 1,773 in favor and 298 against.
Taxes will not rise because the new debt will replace bonds the district issued in 1993 that roll off its books next month. This is the third bond request in the school district’s history. All have been successful.
“I think it went very well,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks. “I thought voter turnout was good for the time of year in the summer, right before school started back. I know there were a lot of last-minute vacations planned.”
Each of the 31 precincts supported the bond issue by at least a 70 percent margin. Of the precincts that had at least 50 voters, it received more than 90 percent of the votes in Fellowship, Cedar Hill, Birmingham Ridge, Euclatubba, Palmetto and Plantersville.
“I think it will be wonderful,” said Shannon resident Betty Gates after voting at the town’s fire station. “I support the schools 100 percent. I know schools need the money, and I am 100 percent for them getting it.”
It received 86 percent of the votes in Saltillo (261-42), 79 percent in Shannon (95-25) and 80 percent in Mooreville (107-27).
Julie Suranyi of Saltillo said the issue was “very important” to the schools.
“We have a big need,” she said after voting at Saltillo’s Community Center. “We are growing a lot, and people are moving into the area for the Toyota plant, and we need more room.”
The highest turnout was in Brewer, where 25.33 percent of registered voters cast ballots. None of the other 31 precincts had a turnout greater than 17 percent, and 18 of them were less than 10 percent.
“Everything went really well,” said Lee County Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin. “We are always disappointed when we have a low turnout.”
About 21 or 22 affidavit ballots will be counted today, but they will not impact the result.
“We are really excited and relieved,” said School Board President Sherry Mask. “Now we can get started on these projects we’ve been telling everyone about.”
Proposed projects include new buildings or additions at Shannon High, Saltillo High, Saltillo Primary,Guntown Middle and Plantersville Middle schools.
Work will begin next spring, Weeks said. Once the district completes the technical work to purchase the bonds, it will begin to advertise projects, likely in January. Some projects will start around that time, while others will begin as soon as the school year ends next May.
Much of the renovation work should be completed by next August, but the Shannon High School construction could take a year and a half because it will be done in phases.
YES 1,773 85%
NO 298 15%
TOTAL VOTES 2,071