Getting more bang for the buck

Supporters say passage of EC-P bonds will be a bargain for the 


By Jeff Shultz


School patrons in Elmore City will go to the polls Tuesday, March 5, to decide the fate of a proposed new high school and other facility projects for Elmore City-Pernell students.

The new high school is one of several projects that an $18.240 million bond issue will go toward, if voters pass the bond issue.

According to EC-P Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Cruz, the new high school has an estimated $7.665 million price tag, including finance and interest charges.

A new high school building is needed due to the deplorable condition of the current high school.

“Things have been left in disrepair for so long that we either spend money we don’t have to fix them or we continue to let our students attend school in such awful conditions,” Cruz told the News Star.

Also on the wish list is a new gymnasium ($8,640,000.00), improvements to the football stadium ($1,810,000.00), a secure entry vestibule at the elementary school ($25,000.00) and to make improvements to the Ag facility ($100,000.00).

“If this does not pass, we have no alternatives except to pull money from the general fund to repair the issues with plumbing, termites and mold and that could mean cutting employees, curriculum, activities, etc.,” Cruz added.

The bond issue includes a 13.5 percent hike in property taxes, which is less than previous bond issues.

In 2000 EC-P voters approved a $500,000 bond issue for repairs to school buildings and to purchase buses. That bond issue raised property taxes by 15.77 percent.

Four years later, voters approved a $1.95 million bond issue to construct a new elementary school.

The passage of that bond issue carried a 15.88 percent increase in property taxes.

The bond issues WILL NOT impact Elmore City’s sales tax in any way. It is a property tax increase, Cruz said.

“Property taxes will NOT continue to increase during the length of the bond,” she added. “In fact, they will begin to go down as the bond gets paid off.”

Supporters of the bond issue told the News Star the rise in property taxes didn’t worry them.

“Honestly, I am not concerned about the property tax increase,” said Jasmine Tadlock.

“I fully realize that there are times where property taxes need to increase in order to move forward,” she added.

Tara Loriss is a parent of two EC-P students and member of the Personnel and Properties Committee on the EC-P Board of Education.

Loriss said the failure to pass the bonds could have a negative impact on the EC community.

“I am not concerned with the increase because of how important a new school is for our district. Without a high school we won’t have a town. 

“And the current high school is in such disrepair that it won’t be long before it will be unusable,” she said.

“The new school and gym in my opinion will bring families into our community and help our community to grow and prosper,” she said.

Tadlock agrees, noting passage of the bond issues this Tuesday means her children will be able to attend one of the best facilities in the area.

“I think the passage of this bond issue will help our community in so many ways, but what I look forward to most is that this facility will give our children the best environment to learn and grow in,” Tadlock said.

The new gymnasium is another top project along with the proposed new high school.

J.R. McCaskill, who has been a staunch supporter of EC-P schools for decades, said the new gym would enhance the community’s ability to serve its elderly and handicapped residents.

“The gymnasium is not ADA compliant. We have senior citizens and disabled residents who cannot safely access the stands to attend community events including basketball games and graduation. 

“Almost three decades after ADA was passed, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

McCaskill added now is the time to construct a new gym and high school.

“I see new construction as the only safe and affordable option to meet ADA guidelines and safety standards.  In my opinion this can’t wait five, eight or ten years. It needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.”

Other areas of concern are:

•Mold is a problem in the current high school because of the years of leaks. 

•The plumbing at the high school, gym and current field house is crumbling and will cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. 

•The Ag. Barn will be renovated, including redoing the concession stand and restrooms, adding more electrical boxes to the shop area for the welding program, as well as other improvements needed to improve the program. 

Tadlock said passage of the bonds this Tuesday would be a bargain for Elmore City, considering the impact the projects will have on the schools and community.

“A minimal increase in property taxes is a small price to pay in order to give the children in our community the very best,” she said.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.