Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees voted unanimously Monday night to call for a bond election in May to build a new school facility and make renovations and upgrades at other campuses.
“We are standing for the kids in this school district,” SSISD board President Don Sapaugh said as the trustees stood to signal their vote approving the order to call for the bond election. “This will benefit the kids and district and entire community. It is time now to work on the specifics.”
The bond proposal asks SSISD taxpayers to vote for or against issuing up to $48.4 million in bonds “for the construction, renovation, acquisition and equipment for school buildings, and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.”
The proposal passed on a 6-0 vote; trustee Carolyn Thomas was absent.
“This is one of — if not THE — most important decisions I’ve made while on this board,” said SSISD trustee Judy Gillem. “This is the time we need to take care of the future of our children. This will take care of classrooms and other facilities needs so that boards will not have to worry about that down the line.”
Board member Foy Williams, who has been involved with the district for more than 30 years as an educator and trustee, echoed Gillem’s sentiments.
“We want to keep our district in the upside,” Williams said. “The bond is very important for our district and kiddoes.”
The bond issue, if approved, is expected to raise the debt service portion of the school district’s tax rate by about 30 cents over the current rate. The bond would be paid out over the course of the next 30 years.
Whether the bonds would be sold at one time or in increments has yet to be determined. If the proposition passes, that decision will be made closer to the time the bonds are sold, based on a number of economic factors for the district’s best benefit, District Director of Finance Miki Eddins explained.
“We want to get the most bang for the buck,” Sapaugh explained.
Although nothing is set in stone, school trustees have been studying the construction of a new middle school to house sixth, seventh and eighth grades on property south of Interstate 30, and moving third and fourth graders to the current middle school facility. The proposals also include closing Austin Elementary, then housing first and second graders at Bowie, Lamar and Travis elementary campuses. Douglas Intermediate School, Early Childhood Learning Center and the high school would still continue to house the same grade levels.
The bond election will be conducted in conjunction with the Sulphur Springs City Council Election on May 9, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the SSISD Administration Building, 631 Connally St. Selected to serve as election judge was Patty Morgan, with Cecile Bagwell named alternate judge.
Early voting by personal appearance will be conducted at City Hall (Sulphur Springs Municipal Building), 125 South Davis St., weekdays from April 27 through May 5. Early voting times will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Tuesday, April 28, and Thursday, April 30, when voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Applications to vote early by mail may be delivered to early voting clerk Gale Roberts at 125 South Davis St. beginning today, and no later than May 1.
The school district also entered into a lease agreement with the county for use of election equipment, an expense that will be shared with the city as the two entities are conducting the election jointly.
“This is a routine lease agreement with the county,” said Judy Gregg, SSISD elections officer. “It saves us a lot of money to lease from them. This will be in accordance with the Help America Vote Act as required by law.”
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