The Webster Parish School Board formally gave notice Monday to call for a bond extension on the current 29 mill ad valorem tax already collected for schools in District 6.
According to the announcement, the board will consider adopting a resolution “ordering and calling an election to be held within School District No. 6…to authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds” at a special meeting at 6 p.m., Monday, August 24.
Making the announcement lays the groundwork for the board to call for an election on the November ballot if needed.
“In committee we decided to go with the GO (General Obligation) bonds (as a funding source,)” board member Brandon Edens said. “At this time, we just wanted to state that the 29 mills of the GO bonds would not increase, but it will extend the time of the bond. It’s not adding any extra, but it will add life to the bonds.”
He says everything discussed on J.E. Harper Elementary School is contingent upon the voters passing this ballot option in November.
“If none of that passes, then we’re all back at square one with Harper…” he said.
Edens followed his comment with a motion to use general obligation bonds to fund adding a wing to J.A. Phillips Middle School and a wing to Webster Junior High School. The motion was seconded by board member Ronnie Rhymes and was passed unanimously with board members John Madden, Jerri O’Neal and Linda Kinsey absent.
If funding goes through, a wing will be added to Phillips to accommodate the increase in the number of students – K-1 – going into that school. Another is being added to Webster to accommodate the sixth grade class.
No one will move to another campus until construction on both Phillips and Webster campuses are complete.
In the committee meeting, district 8 board member Ronnie Broughton asked his fellow members to also keep in mind that dealing with infrastructure issues with E.S. Richardson and J.L. Jones Elementary Schools aren’t far behind the completion of Harper.
“The coming crisis will be Richardson and Jones,” he said. “Do we ask people to extend the half cent sales tax along with the bonds to keep money flowing during the extension?”
Madden, a member of the buildings and maintenance committee, sent a letter with documentation in his absence regarding a visit he had with Bossier Parish school officials. In his letter, he says he toured additions on some of the schools there and said they were cost effective and efficient.
“I will say that I very much liked the Apollo (Elementary) wing addition,” Madden said. “It was very functional, modest and well within our budget…I would like to say that they think this is a good blue print that is functional and within their budgets as well.”
Edens went over some of the documentation attached and agreed that function outweighed beauty.
Madden named several architectural companies: Yeager, Watson and Associates Inc., Kevin Bryan Architect, The Newman Marchive Partnership, Inc., Prevot Design Services and SMBB Architects.
During the regular meeting, the board voted unanimously, with the exception of those absent, to use Yeager, Watson and Associates LLC.
As discussions on moving forward with the decision to move the students from Harper continue, ideas on what to do with the soon-to-be vacated building continue to come forth. Rhymes suggested using the building as an activities center, saying it would be perfect for larger gatherings for school functions such as graduations, awards ceremonies and other such activities.
Other options have included tearing it down, moving the technology center there, turning it into a magnet school and moving parts of Central Office there among others.
The next meeting will be at 6 p.m., Monday, August 3, at Central Office, located at 1442 Sheppard Street.