Schools sets special election for next year

Published 7:00 am Friday, September 16, 2016

Pearl River County School District Business Administrator T.J. Burleson and Superintendent Alan Lumpkin spoke with advocates of a $17 million bond on Sept 8. Photo by Julia Arenstam

Pearl River County School District Business Administrator T.J. Burleson and Superintendent Alan Lumpkin spoke with advocates of a $17 million bond on Sept 8.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

A possible special election next year would decide if the Pearl River County School District will issue a multi-million bond for new construction.
The district is working with a group of advocates who are in the early stages of promoting the bond.
The election, scheduled for March, is seeking approval for a 20-year bond of either $10 million or $17 million to build permanent classrooms at the McNeil and Carriere campuses, which currently have some operations in trailers, Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said.
There are also plans to build a performing arts center, which will include 14 classrooms, at the Carriere campus for the middle and high school, which currently has facilities to seat only 550 of the more than 900 students, Lumpkin said.

There is also a third possible project for a library and media center at the Carriere campus, Lumpkin said.
He said the district is growing rapidly, enrolling 200 new students this school year.
Lumpkin and PRC School District Business Administrator T.J. Burleson said the project would require an increase of seven mills to pay off the $17 million bond, or two mills for a $10 million bond. That increase would be levied to property owners in the PRC School District.
The current millage rate in the district is 55.9 mills.
To put that in perspective, Lumpkin said a home with an assessed value of $100,000 would see a $70 increase per year in property taxes if the rate was raised by seven mills.
Similarly, land and mobile home taxes would increase by $10.50 annually for every $10,000 of assessed value, and taxes on vehicles would increase by the same amount for every $5,000 in value, according to Lumpkin.
Advocates of the new construction are determining the best methods to spread the message of the election and the impact it will have on the community.
The group met with Lumpkin and Burleson on Sept. 8 to discuss preliminary ideas.
School district employees and school board members are not legally allowed to advocate for the project, or disseminate persuasive information through the schools to the public.
Lumpkin said he hopes the performing arts center would be able to support its own maintenance costs by renting the space to local groups during off hours.
He also said the center could promote economic development by bringing more consumers to the area.
Lumpkin said he believes voting on the bond issue in a special election will be more successful than if it were on the general election ballot in November.
The highest bond proposal was set for $17 million because the district can only borrow up to 15 percent of its total assessed value, Burleson said.
The district is valued just under $120 million, allowing the district to borrow up to about $18 million, Burleson said.
He said he based the millage rate increases upon an estimated 3.5 to 4.75 percent interest rate.
Lumpkin said this is a good time for new construction due to low interest rates and construction costs.
The advocates plan to begin designing flyers to be handed out at future PRC High School football games.
More information on the project will be published as it becomes available.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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