Early voting begins Saturday for the Central school district proposition to allow the district to borrow $13.1 million and to repay the bonds by extending an existing property tax for five years.
The funds would be used to build a ninth-grade academy at Central High and for other improvements.
Early voting runs through Nov. 9, except on Sunday. Election day is Nov. 16.
The district’s 360 freshmen at Central High School are housed in temporary buildings, Central Superintendent Michael Faulk said.
If voters approve the tax extension, the district would be able to spend about $5.8 million on a new two-story academy, with 14 classrooms, four science labs and two technology labs for 480 students.
“Right now, we grow each year with about 30 new freshmen entering the high school,” Faulk said. “This is something that’s really practical and required. Not some pie-in-the-sky thing.”
Central Community School Board President James Gardener said the new facility is need to put a greater emphasis on the freshmen at the campus.
“It’s a crucial time because you can identify fast which student is a likely drop out and you can do something then,” Gardner said.
Faulk said this is not a new tax and it’s not a tax hike.
The proposal is to maintain the current 23.65 mills in property taxes, passed in 2009, that fund school construction, Faulk said.
“Residents will still only play what they pay now,” he said.
Passage of the ballot issue would extend the tax for five years so the school system can sell more bonds to fund the new construction needs.
The ninth-grade academy is only one part of the $8.1 million planned in improvements to Central High School.
The rest of the money will be used to repair and extend the school parking lot, which is damaged by potholes. The money will also fund extended lighting at the parking lot for students who participate in extracurricular activities and lighting for the school’s baseball and softball fields.
“No light there now so we can’t have night games,” Faulk said.
The money also will be used to upgrade district technology by improving and adding bandwidth and capacity as well as computer hardware and software, Faulk said.
Bond sales, if passed, will also fund the demolition of some of the outlying buildings at the former Central Middle School campus at Sullivan and Hooper Roads.
Three of the buildings at the former campus — including the maintenance building and home economics building — will not be torn down and could be used in the future for a new central office, Gardner said.
Gardner said he’s feels confident the voters will pass the proposition because it’s not a new tax.
“We haven’t had any pushback at this point,” he said. “People here support what’s best for the schools.”