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Simpson County School District (SCSD) will hold a special election Tuesday, March 29, to determine the fate of a $39 million bond issue for the construction of a new high school.
Voting will take place on March 29 at voters’ regular polling precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Absentee ballots will be accepted until Saturday, March 26, at the Simpson County Circuit Clerk in Mendenhall.
The $39 million bond will be used for the construction of the future Simpson County High School – a state-of-the-art consolidated high school that will offer academic, athletic and extracurricular opportunities that the district has never been able to offer in its current make up. The school will be located off of U.S. Highway 49, just north of Howard Industries and south of AirSouth Heating and Cooling – a demographic center within the county’s population.
“The decision to combine Magee High School and Mendenhall High School was based on an ongoing facility study that began three years ago, and the board’s desire to offer our students a broader range of courses,” said SCSD School Board President Danny Cowart. “A new high school was the remedy to a global challenge we were facing with the conditions of our existing facilities – especially Mendenhall Junior High School. With the construction of a new high school, not only will we be able to place every student in an adequate facility suitable for learning, we will also be able to increase course offerings that we were not able to offer in two small high school settings.”
SCSD is currently making a significant investment in its facilities thanks to $10 million provided by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) that is being use toward improvements to three existing schools: Mendenhall Elementary, Mendenhall High School and Simpson Central School.
Once the new Simpson County High School is completed, students attending Magee and Mendenhall high schools will attend the new facility, while students attending Magee Middle School and Mendenhall Junior High will move to the vacant high school facilities. In addition to improved facilities, SCSD will also expand its current course offerings by introducing Middle College High School programming; a minimum of two Career Academies; advanced courses; and arts programs such as theatre, choir and advanced art classes.
“Our students are truly excited about the opportunities ahead with the addition of this new high school,” said Superintendent Toriano Holloway. “Our students deserve the best, and it is long overdue that we provide them with every opportunity available to ensure they are beyond prepared for college and 21st century careers.”
The district will need at least 60 percent of the registered voters voting in the election to be in favor of the bond for it to pass. Simpson County hasn’t supported a school bond since 1980, which was in the amount $975,000. With a bond, taxpayers can expect a special tax that will be added to their properties to be paid over the course of 20 years, then expire.
If the bond passes, the district will build a new high school with the $39 million and use $12 million of district funds to build onsite athletic facilities – baseball field, football field, softball field, tennis courts, track and field complex, and two practice fields – and a potential performing arts center. There will also be a new band hall to house band members.
However, if the school bond fails, SCSD will still move forward with building the new high school but without the convenience of onsite athletic facilities and a new performing arts center. Instead, student-athletes will be transported to designated facilities in Mendenhall and Magee.
To pay for the school building and athletic facilities – which will be added over time – the district will request operational increases to make annual debt payments toward a capital lease. Through this method, taxes can be permanent. SCSD has the authority to request a four percent tax increase every year, as determined by state law, until it caps at its 55 operational mill leverage. Currently, Simpson County only has an operational millage rate of 42.77.
For more information about the 2022 SCSD School Bond Issue, visit the district website at www.simpson.k12.ms.us and select School Bond 2022. Videos, informational material and a tax calculator are provided.
Simpson County School District will hold a special election Tuesday, March 29, for the approval of a $39 million bond issue for the construction of the future Simpson County High School. Voters will vote at their regular polling precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
MageeNews.com is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.