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Home News-Telegram News SSISD voters approve $48.4 million bond package for new middle school, multl-use facility

SSISD voters approve $48.4 million bond package for new middle school, multl-use facility

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Sulphur Springs voters approved a $48.4 million bond proposal by 254 votes on Saturday.

The bond was approved by a vote of 1,513 in favor to 1,250 against.

SSISD voters approve $48.4 million bond package for new middle school, multl-use facility

Sulphur Springs voters approved a $48.4 million bond proposal by 254 votes on Saturday.

The bond was approved by a vote of 1,513 in favor to 1,250 against.

The final vote is unofficial until the results have been canvassed by the Sulphur Springs Independent School District board of trustees. A special meeting has been scheduled for noon Wednesday, May 13, for that purpose.

The oaths of office will be administered to incoming school board members Jason Dietze and returning trustee Don Sapaugh. They were unopposed in this year’s races.

Of the 2,772 votes in the bond election, 1,575 were cast on Saturday, more than half of them in the last hours of the election.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, only 754 people had voted in person that day. Over the next 3 1/2 hours, another 815 people would vote for or against the bond.

The measure passed in early voting, as well, with 621 votes for and 576 opposed.

The bond vote, which was authorized by a unanimous vote of the SSISD board of trustees in March, means the district can proceed designing and building a new middle school, which will alleviate crowding at the existing campus for sixth, seventh and eighth grades as well as elementary schools.

Under the district’s stated plans, once the new school is open, all third and fourth graders will move to the existing middle school. First and second graders will go to Bowie, Lamar and Travis schools, which are all either exemplary or recognized schools according to state ratings. Austin Elementary, the only primary campus rated academically acceptable, would be used only for the Alternative Education Program.

SSISD financial estimates calculated the bond would add 30 cents to the tax rate in a worst-case scenario. However, a number of factors could affect that number, including a current law that reimburses districts for certain projects.

The district currently receives an “Existing Debt Allotment,” or EDA, which is essentially a rebate from the state of Texas to help pay for improvements. Under current statutes, 27 percent of the cost of the bond — or just over $13 million — would be reimbursed to SSISD through EDA funding.

“If that law stays in place — and we certainly hope it does, but with the Legislature meeting, you never know — we expect to receive EDA funds on this new debt,” SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton said in April. “If that’s the case, it won’t go to 30 cents. It will be below that.”

Without passage of the bond, however, the district would not have qualified for the money.

The tax rate also won’t go up as high if property values increase, although the ultimate amount of tax revenue would stay the same.

Land for a new school was purchased in 2007. The 53.39 acres is south of Interstate 30, between State Highway 19 and County Road 1103.

Other changes district officials planned if the bond passed included:

  • Move all third and fourth graders to the current middle school, and add a connecting corridor and entrance at the middle school for improved security.
  • House all first and second grade students at Travis, Lamar and Bowie schools.
  • Move the alternative classrooms to the Austin Elementary campus.
  • Add classrooms to Douglas Intermediate School, which would still house all fifth graders
  • Build a multi-purpose facility at the high school that would serve about 700 students in extracurricular activities, including athletics, band, cheerleading, flag corps, as well as elementary field days and state-mandated physical fitness activities.
  • Complete the soccer/track arena at the high school with restrooms, concession area, lights, parking and seating.
 

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