The fate of the Lee County School District’s bond request will be determined on Tuesday.
The 7,100-student school district is asking voters to allow it to issue $13.5 million in new bonds to fund various construction and renovation projects on nine of its 11 campuses. The new debt would not result in a tax increase because it would replace a 1993 bond issue that expires next month.
“We’ve got overcrowding needs in some areas, and we’ve got facilities that aren’t in as good of shape as we’d like them to be in,” said Lee County School District Superintendent Jimmy Weeks. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass a bond issue without increasing taxes. We can make things better for our students and our communities without any additional cost to taxpayers.”
To pass, the request must receive the support of 60 percent of those who cast votes in Tuesday’s election. If the vote is declined, taxes would decrease by about $40 a year on a house that is appraised at $100,000.
The election is for those who live in the Lee County School District.
Thirty-one of Lee County’s 38 precincts will be used and will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters should go to the same precinct they use for county and state elections.
As of Friday afternoon, absentee voting was light, with only 14 ballots cast. It closed on Saturday.
Proposed projects include a new cafeteria/auditorium and a classroom building at Shannon High, a two-story classroom addition at Saltillo High, eight new classrooms and a PE building at Saltillo Primary and new classroom buildings at
Guntown Middle and Plantersville Middle. Older buildings would be demolished at Shannon High, Guntown and Mooreville High, and a new concession stand would be built at Mooreville.
Hallways and restrooms would be renovated at Saltillo Elementary, Shannon Elementary, Verona Elementary and Mooreville Middle and High. The district’s central office would get a new loading dock and more office space.
The district held forums at Saltillo, Mooreville and Shannon high schools during the past two weeks to discuss its plans with residents. Weeks said the plans have not changed significantly as a result of those meetings, but they did reveal two needs the district will try to address.
One is the importance of repairing the parking lot at Verona. Also, Weeks learned that one of the buildings slated to be demolished at Mooreville does house classes in the mornings, meaning the district will have to find new space for those classes if it tears down the building.
“I think the forums went really well,” Weeks said. “They had the purpose we intended, which was to get information to people and to give them the opportunity to give us input into this, and that is what happened.”
The district also learned after making its construction plans that it now will have to repair a building at Guntown Middle that has been damaged significantly by white and black mold and by termites. It will use three mobile units this year to host the classes from the building, which is listed as a Mississippi Landmark by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Weeks said he is concerned that those repairs could be expensive but said he believes the district still will be able to do all of the things it planned on the other campuses. It may mean other plans at Guntown are scaled back, he said.
The district has promoted its effort with yard signs that proclaim “Vote Yes for Kids.” It also has purchased newspaper, radio and television advertisements.
Money for those efforts came from private donations given to the Community Development Foundation in the district’s name, Weeks said.
“We did not spend a dime of district funds,” he said.