It’s for the children – that was the common consensus among those who attended a public meeting Wednesday regarding an upcoming tax proposition for North Webster Upper Elementary School.
NWUES, the former Cotton Valley High School, is in need of some repairs and the school only has about $7,000 at its disposal.
The immediate needs are fixing drainage problems around the gym, water penetration issues, security cameras/security systems, bus loading canopies, replacing the old HVAC systems on the main roof, replacing the flanges and flashings on the main roof and smaller projects such as floor tile replacement, painting and lighting.
Principal Beatha Brantley said it’s just not enough to make the needed repairs.
“It’s not a new school, and the older it gets the more we’re going to have to do to keep it looking good,” she said. “The custodians here do a great job of keeping the school up, but every time we’re inspected, they write us up on something, something that requires money – tiles off the floor, water fountains, sinks in the bathrooms.”
District 5 School Board Member Ronny Rhymes, who conducted the meeting, said Cotton Valley needs the maintenance tax to keep the school in shape.
“One of our biggest problems is the drainage around the school, and last year, during the heavy rain, water backed up into the foyer of the gym,” he said. “We asked the school board to loan us $27,000 for a canopy so the children wouldn’t get wet unloading the school busses, and the school board didn’t do it.”
Rhymes briefly went over the millage and what it will cost. Homeowners with property valued at $75,000 or less fall under homestead exemption. Anything over $75,000 will be assessed 5 mills. For a house estimated at $100,000, the cost to the homeowner is $12.50. For a home assessed at $300,000, the cost to the homeowner is $112.50.
“There’s very few people in Cotton Valley that own homes valued at $300,000,” Rhymes said. “It’s something that has to be done, and we’re the only school that doesn’t have a maintenance tax.”
Sean Jacobs, of Cotton Valley, said he feels like the proposition would be approved.
“Most people, once they understand what it’s for, I think they’ll approve it,” he said. “We don’t want to see our school go down, and our gym is a great asset.”
Ann Shaw, also of Cotton Valley, said she wants the school to stay here even though she doesn’t have any children in the school.
“I don’t have any children in school, but it’s important to the community,” she said. “I have grandchildren that could be coming this way, and I want this school to stay here.”
“Cotton Valley has always supported the children,” Rhymes said. “We just have to get people out to vote.”
Voters in District No. 12 will head to the polls Saturday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.