School board approves improvement bonds

June 12, 2013 10:19:27 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


The Starkville School District Board of Trustees Tuesday approved up to $9.95 million in spending power in which at least $2 million in no-interest loans will be used for various maintenance and repair projects. 


The bond does require a 3-mill levy, but SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway said its impact on the tax base will be negligible because 6 mills will roll off the books in 2015. Previously, 2 mills were retired in 2010, he said. 


A special referendum could be called if a petition signed by 20 percent of qualified electors residing within SSD's boundaries is filed with the district by 6 p.m. July 9. 


Holloway said the bond money would provide the district with enough flexibility to complete numerous projects; however, the district does not have to spend all of the $9.95 million. 


During this year's legislative session, Holloway voiced concerns about finding future county-wide support for maintenance and construction bonds for a consolidated school system. Attending to current SSD needs, he said, puts the city school system in a better position before it and Oktibbeha County School District merge in 2015. 


SSD stakeholders previously developed a prioritized list of maintenance needs during strategic planning sessions. Officials confirmed high-ranking projects from that list - new roofs at Armstrong Middle School gym and Overstreet School; air conditioning for Henderson Middle School's gymnasium; and improvements to Starkville High School's football field and track - will take priority once money is allocated. 


"We've had great support from stakeholders for our projects," Holloway said. "We've pointed out all along that with our growth there will be a necessity for a bond issue in eight or nine years for a new school. We're trying to get ahead in the game." 


In April, school board members agreed to pass on roof repairs at Millsaps Career and Technical Center due to the project's expense. Combined, the AMS gym and Overstreet projects are estimated at $690,205, while the Millsaps roof alone would cost an estimated $808,200. Holloway previously said a complete tear-down and build-back project would be needed and accounts for the high cost. 


As listed on the prioritized projects list, redeveloping the SHS football field could cost an estimated $600,000, while track repairs are ball-parked at $400,000. Holloway previously told the board that project estimates could run higher than what was presented. He also said in April that athletics director Stan Miller agreed in principle to commit half of the $40,000 average yearly donations his department receives back to SSD for a 10-year period. 


Henderson's gymnasium air conditioning project will cost an estimated $200,000. 


Other projects identified in the projects list include SHS parking lot cameras ($24,000) and lights (unlisted); 92 HVAC units ($184,000); SHS White House renovations ($200,000) and construction of six new tennis courts ($390,000).

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch