|Voters reject $33.4 million school bond proposal|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Sept. 13, 2004 -- Voters in Sulphur Springs Independent School District soundly defeated two bond issues - $29.98 million for building and classroom construction and $3.5 million for a multi-purpose building at the high school in Saturday's election.
The first proposal on the ballot, calling for the issuance of $29.98 million in bonds, was rejected by a more than two to one margin - 866 for and 1,943 against the proposal.
A second proposal on the ballot, to add another $3.5 million to the bond package to fund the construction of a multi-purpose building at the high school was rejected by a five to one margin - 420 votes for the proposal and 2,100 voting against the proposition.
Patsy Bolton, SSISD superintendent expressed her sentiments Monday morning.
"I was very disappointed, I am disappointed because our needs haven't changed," the superintendent said. "We still need classrooms and we'll keep pressing on."
Bolton said she could not speak for the board with regard to future planning, but the school district will have to "re-group."
"There are some definite areas that we will have to make decisions about," she said. "One of them is the foundation at the high school, it is in a bad state and we had money in that bond issue to take care of the foundation. I think that that's a critical area because we cannot compromise that building. We are going to have to do some repairs some way, somehow."
The superintendent said state law requires science rooms at the high school that the district does not have and the board will have to address the issue.
Space needs are another area that the school board must investigate in order to meet the state-mandated student-teacher ratio of 22-1.
"With new people moving into our district, we have already gone over the 22-1 at kindergarten this year," she said. "We will continue adding students to those rooms and we will have to ask the state for a waiver. If they don't approve that waiver, the only other option would be portable classrooms."
In early voting in the school bond election, 1,311 votes were cast. The total number of registered voters in the district, according to the school tax office, is 14,499.
In proposition one, voters were asked to approve $29.98 million in bonds to finance the reorganization of grades to fit buildings and instructional programs, build a new elementary campus that would house grades 3,4 and 5, add new classrooms at the Early Childhood Learning Center to accommodate an increasing number of students, add new science classrooms at the high school and convert the current science classrooms for use as regular classrooms, along with the addition and upgrade of space for fine arts classes. Proposal one would also add a track and tennis courts at the high school along with upgrades at other schools as needed.
Had the bond issues received voter approval, the tax rate for property owners in the school district would have increased from the current $1.50 per $100 property valuation to a rate of $1.69 per $100 property value according to Miki Eddins, SSISD school finance director.
School trustees will be meeting this evening and consider calling a Sept. 20 meeting to canvass the election results and begin exploring ways to meet the needs of the district..