By Gina Burgess
CARRIERE — The Pearl River County School Board adopted a resolution of intent to issue a $10.5 million bond Monday night, with the election on the issue to be held on Sept. 18. The decision was made after the public meeting where the public was given a chance to make comments and ask questions.
One question was if constructing only the elementary school was under consideration or if other capital improvements for the McNeill campus and the Pearl River Central campus, such as a fine arts building or auditorium, were being considered as well.
“The harsh reality is that building is out of our budget,” Penton said. “It’s out of our budget right now. The need for student space is unavoidable.”
He added that the elementary students would have to ride less time on the buses because busing would be more localized around Salem rather than McNeill. The boundary would have to be a floating line depending upon the number of children, but would run between West Union and Salem roads.
The money from the bond issue is earmarked for a new elementary school to be located on Salem Road. The projected cost of the new school is slightly less than $15 million.
The board will use the budget reserves that are in the capitol improvement fund.
“We’ll make the project fit the budget, though,” Penton said.
The facility will be for 700 elementary students.
“We don’t have specific plans drawn up,” Margie Creel, board president said. “We can’t say what the specific square footage will be or who we will contract for the blueprints. We’ll decide on that if the issue passes.”
“It boils down to the money available,” said board member Byron Stockstill.
“If you could just please see if there is any way to handle both needs while the plans are being drawn up,” a concerned citizen asked. “The fine arts has nothing right now. Look into how much longer it might be.”
“That’s a good idea, Mr. Burch,” Creel said. “We’ll look into it.
“How much will this bond issue cost each tax payer,” asked another concerned citizen.
Jim Young, attorney of Watkins and Young PLLC, said the owner of a $100,000 house and a $10,000 car would pay approximately $58 per year.
At the regular meeting, the high school Soccer Booster Club proposed a new soccer practice field to be used also for the other physical education classes. The preliminary cost would be roughly $31,000.
“This group was very good to work with,” Penton told the board. “They asked a lot of questions and worked with the answer to get a $180,000 project down to a cost of about $31,000.”
“We’ve got a lot of volunteers,” said Roger Meadows with the Booster Club. “They’re sitting on bulldozers waiting for the go ahead.”
Michelle Boyd and Sherwin Taylor voted against approving the project.
“I agree with (this project),” Boyd said. “I’m not voting ‘no’, but it will look that way. But, we’re not looking at real numbers here. We’re short $1 million.”
“No, we’re not,” Penton disagreed.
“With what we’re looking at putting in the budget tonight that comes to $19 million and the revenues we’ve got coming in at $18 million. That gives us a shortfall of $1 million,” Boyd said.
“The local revenues are not exact yet. I haven’t gotten those finalized from the tax assessor, yet,” said Megan St. Claire, business manager for the district.
“I feel very confident that we’ll have all the revenues we need,” Penton said. “We’ve been in the black for the past six years because we haven’t spent more than we’ve brought in. I’m confident this year will be the same.”
A motion to get exact quotes for the new soccer practice and physical education field for the next board meeting passed.
On other matters, the board:
— Approved including in bus purchases new alternators for those with air conditioning.
— Portable class rooms will be new units and double-wide rather than the single-wide, used units from Biloxi school district because of the cost of moving them and the sewer and utilities hook-ups.
— Another meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 18 because of time sensitive issues that must be dealt with.