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Harper Elementary student’s fate in hands of voters

by Minden Press-Herald

The Webster Parish School Board passed a resolution Monday that will put before the people in November a proposition that will extend the current bond issue to fund construction that will allow Kindergarten and first grade students at J.E. Harper Elementary to move.

By a unanimous vote, the board approved the resolution that includes the capital improvement plan to move students from Harper to J.A. Phillips Middle School and move the sixth grade students to Webster Junior High School.

Even though he voted in favor of it, board member Jerry Lott still expressed his disappointment in the fact that the capital improvement plan does not include what will be done with the building once it’s vacated.

“It seems to me that should have been part of our package, but it’s not,” he said. “I’ll support the motion, and I’m also concerned about the amount of public input we’ve had on the capital improvement plan. We had a lot of input on the problems and the needs for something to be done, but I’ve really not heard much from the public in terms of what it is we’re proposing to do.”

He says he’s supporting the capital improvement plan to construct an additional wing onto Phillips and an additional wing onto Webster, calling it a “major improvement” over what’s taking place now.

Currently, taxpayers pay a total of 29 mill ad valorem tax that will sunset in 2029. If the proposition passes, it will be extended through 2036, board attorney Grant Schleuter said.

The bond issue proposed would be a 20-year bond issue, which would begin in 2016.

“We would be issuing these bonds and have the money available in March of next year,” Schleuter said.

Lott clarified saying it’s not costing the taxpayers any more money, just an extra five years.
Before the special meeting at 6 p.m., a buildings and maintenance committee meeting as well as a finance committee meeting took place where architect Perry Watson and attorney Grant Schleuter were on hand to answer questions from board members.

Watson answered many logistical questions about construction, the buildings themselves as well as capacity for assembly and lunchroom areas at both Phillips and Webster.

He also discussed his fees, what they are and how they will be paid.

In other news, board members turned in their evaluation sheets rating the performance of

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls. Board president Charles Strong told members the scores would be totaled in an executive meeting immediately following the board meeting. The results will be sent out to his fellow board members Tuesday, he said.

The next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 14, as the first Monday in September is Labor Day. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

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