Lowndes County voters consider $44 million bond issue for school district on May 12


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COLUMBUS, Mississippi — Lowndes County citizens will go to the polls May 12 to vote on a proposed bond issue for the school district worth $44 million.

If passed, the bond will include: $11 million for a centralized career-technical center; $26 million for a new high school on the New Hope campus; $3 million for upgrades and additions at the Caledonia campus; $1.9 million for a new field house at Caledonia; and $2 million for renovations on the West Lowndes campus.

The Commercial Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1JLiP2g ) the bond issue is the second phase of a total $75 million worth of improvements to the district in an attempt, administrators say, to stay competitive in 21st century education.

The first half of the $75 million came without a bond issue: the $16 million for a new Caledonia Elementary School already underway; money for additional classrooms on the West Lowndes campus; and funding for a new field house in New Hope.

Now, the school board is asking for voter approval to complete the second half of the improvements.

Jeff Smith, who serves as the school board attorney, said it is important that voters in Caledonia and West Lowndes realize additions to their campuses are part of the same plan that is updating the rest of the district.

"Every campus is getting something," Smith said. "Caledonia is actually getting the most, they just got the first chunk of money without a bond issue."

Every registered voter who lives in an area of Lowndes County served by the county school district can vote on the bond issue. Sixty percent approval is needed for it to pass.

In August, a proposed $47 million school bond issue failed at the polls, with only 52 percent of people voting for it.

Lowndes County tax assessor Greg Andrews told The Dispatch last week there will not be a tax increase. The district will pay off the $44 million in $3 million increments for the next 18 years. Andrews said the district is in great shape to do so, because millage values have increased dramatically over the last three to five years and will continue to do so as tax abatements for local industries roll off in the coming years. There will be an additional $6.3 million in the district coffers in three years, another $6 million two years after that, according to Andrews.

Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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