April 11, 2013
seeks new school
The Holly Springs School District will ask members of the community to pass a school bond referendum on the May 7 election ballot.
The school bond will help pay for a new Intermediate School, which houses grades 4-6 students in the district, as well as needed renovations to the other schools, including air conditioning for the high school gym, building upgrades and a roof replacement for the Junior High School, and safety additions and roof replacement for the Primary School.
“Our Intermediate School is no longer adequate to provide a quality education for our students,” said Irene Walton Turnage, superintendent of education. “We have patched and made do, but our children deserve a facility that will help them receive a 21st Century education.”
Problems for the school are numerous, including bad roofs, structural damage in some buildings, and limited space. In addition, buildings are not designed to meet the technological needs of students today or additional technology requirements of the future.
“Rain running down the walls of the hallway and in doorways has forced us to relocate students and technology,” Turnage said. “Wiring for technology is not sufficient to meet student requirements, and in a couple of years, the state will require us to test and complete other tasks totally by computer. All of the monies requested in the bond are based on ‘needs’ not wants.”
The district has made considerable efforts to make do with the present facility. This year, third grade students were moved from the Intermediate School to the Primary School. The district also moved most classes from Sims, the largest building on campus, to other buildings, a move that has resulted in crowded facilities. Originally, the district looked into what it would cost to renovate the present facility. However, based on the estimates received, the district quickly realized it would cost as much to renovate as to build, and putting a lot of money into an old facility is not cost effective.
Two main goals are the focus as the district seeks to build the new school and renovate remaining buildings. According to Turnage, the main goal is to have quality schools that are conducive to learning and will provide opportunities for students to receive a 21st Century education. The second goal is to keep the cost of building as reasonable as possible for the district and the community. In the last two years, the district has experienced over a million dollars worth of cuts from the state. As a result, planning for a new building has to be done strategically and cost efficiently.
The district is working with the city in an effort to obtain land near the Primary School on Maury Street for the new school. By having basically two campuses within two miles of each other, the district will save money right away in transportation cost. The move would also allow the district to share staff and programs which will have a great impact on student achievement.
Turnage said there have been a few concerns related to creeks and valleys on the property on Maury.
“The architects have assured us that the land on Maury is more than solid for building and that filling in land is very common,” she said. “Additionally, with dirt already on the property, the district will save money by not having to bring in additional dirt. The elevation for the new building is projected to be 10 feet higher than that of the Primary School.”
By obtaining this generous donation from the city, the district will save the tax payers an enormous amount of money in land cost and will be able to use the monies from the bond on the new school and needed renovations. The city would take ownership of the Intermediate School and use it for activities that would benefit the city.
The bond referendum has been a process that has taken time. The district has been sharing information on the need for a new school at various programs for the last two years.
“Information about the need to build a new school has been shared at our board meetings, community forums, parent seminars, Rotary meetings, and churches,” Turnage said. “We want parents and community members fully involved in the process.
“At the same time, we must realize that everything has a cost. Land surveys, drafts, soil tests, and architectural fees at every step are very costly.”
Turnage said people had asked about other locations. The district does not have the money to pay for surveys and other requirements on multiple locations, but if interested individuals or organizations want to pay those costs and bring the required information on other locations to the district, the information would be welcomed and considered.
Turnage said a couple of people had also mentioned building a new high school instead of a new Intermediate School.
“Community members do not understand that our millage determines the maximum amount of money this community can vote on for a bond,” she said.
“The amount of money we are allowed to vote for in a school bond would not be adequate to build a new high school, and since our present high school is only about 12 years old, we cannot ask the community to pay for two high schools.”
The district is asking for a $10 million dollar school bond referendum, which will allow the district to build a quality Intermediate School and to make needed renovations to the other schools. The new school and renovations will actually cost close to $10 million dollars, but only $8.65 million will result in increased taxes for citizens.
Turnage said passing the bond will result in the average owner of a $75,000 house paying less than $6 a month in additional taxes; the owner of a $15,000 car paying $3 a month in additional taxes; and the owner of a $250,000 business paying $25 a month in additional taxes.
During the month of April, the district will hold rallies and other events to inform parents on the plans for the school and to get input. District staff will also be happy to present information to community organizations and groups if requested.
“Based on the feedback to date, parents understand the need for the bond and want their children to receive a quality education in quality schools,” she said. “The Holly Springs School District educates over 90 percent of the students in the Holly Springs area. Holly Springs will not reach its full potential until our students reach their full potential. Our students have made outstanding gains in student achievement, and they deserve to have a quality place to learn.
“We are asking all parents and community members to make education a priority and vote ‘yes’ on May 7,” Turnage said.
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