PRC School District to hold a series of community meetings to discuss bond referendum

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Pearl River County School District will hold a series of community meetings to discuss a proposed $18.5 million bond referendum. If it’s approved by voters, the District would like to use the money to improve the facilities. This is the second time in as many years the District has held a bond election. Last year’s proposal was voted down.

The first meeting will take place Thursday night at the Pearl River Central High School Cafeteria at 6:30.

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Two more meetings will be held to give everyone an opportunity to learn more about the bond. The second meeting is planned for April 12, and will be held at the Pearl River Central Elementary Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. A third meeting is set for May 3 and will be held at the Pearl River Central High School Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said attendees of the meetings will receive information pertaining to what the District would like to do with those funds. County residents will have an opportunity to vote for or against the bond during a special election set for May 8.

A bond similar to the one proposed this year was voted down by county residents in March of last year. Last year’s proposed bond was $1.5 million less than the one proposed this year.

If voters approve this year’s proposed tax increase, it would fund the District’s construction of permanent classrooms at the McNeill and Carriere campuses, in addition to the establishment of other facilities.

The proposed plan would add 24 new classrooms to the McNeill campus and 18 classrooms to the Carriere campus, Lumpkin said. The additional classrooms would allow the District to provide space for 500 more students at each campus, for a total of 1,000 students. Lumpkin said the proposed plan would also construct a multi-purpose facility at the Carriere campus for community meetings and school assemblies along with two new libraries, for the Middle School and High School. Lumpkin said the additional funding would also pay for state-of-the-art technology that would provide hands-on experience to students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

He said this year’s bond has been crafted based on the feedback received during last year’s election. Lumpkin said the complaints focused on the lack of additional information in terms of the cost involved and the types of buildings proposed. This year voters will have access to architectural drawings and renderings of the facilities and improvements proposed in the plan. Those who don’t attend the meeting on Thursday can access information about the proposed bond via a website that will launch the same day. It will include a tax calculator and an option to send in questions.

If passed, the bond would add 7.71 mills to the district’s tax rate. Lumpkin that would equate to an increase of $78 per year for a home assessed at $100,000. Property owners who are 65 years or older or disabled should expect an increase of $20 per year for property worth $100,000.

“We are excited for this opportunity to give the community and voters the information about where their funds will be used,” Lumpkin said. “We are very optimistic that with this information they will vote ‘yes’ for the bond issue.”

Last year a total of 1,254 voters cast their ballot on the issue, of which 44.8 percent voted for the bond, the rest voted against it.