Walker area voters to decide fate of school bond issue

Walker-area voters will decide May 3 whether to approve issuing $25 million in bonds to pay for facility and technology improvements in the Walker school district.

Early voting continues through Saturday.

The money raised through the bond issue, which would be repaid over 20 years through an increased property tax millage, would be used to pay for a variety of projects, including expanding and renovating Walker High School and adding more classrooms and a multipurpose building at South Fork Elementary school.

The money also would be used for upgrades and increased classroom technology in all nine Walker-area schools, Superintendent John Watson said.

In addition, the funds would be used to purchase additional land near Walker High School for its expansion, Watson said. The School Board already bought about 4 acres just south of the school, which sits between Burgess Avenue and U.S. 190 just off La. 447.

The bonds, to be paid off over a 20-year period, initially would add 16.83 mills of property tax per year to the 9.77 mills already paid by residents of the Walker-area School District No. 4. The millage would decrease over time as the bonds are paid down.

The initial tax increase would translate to about $125 per year on a $150,000 home with homestead exemption, according to parish Assessor’s Office figures provided by the School Board.

The master plan for Walker High calls for new buildings for classrooms and administration, career and technology education, performing arts and a cafeteria, as well as new ROTC spaces, varsity athletic locker and weight rooms, a gymnasium and more parking.

The $25 million bond proposition is the first time in 10 years the School Board has asked taxpayers in the Walker school district for additional money, school officials have said.

In 2004, voters approved a $12 million bond issue for the construction of North Corbin Junior High and the purchase of property for South Fork Elementary.

Other school improvements in Walker, including the construction of North Corbin Elementary and renovations, repairs and additions at several district schools, were accomplished through accumulated savings at no additional cost to taxpayers, school system officials have said.

Schools in the Walker district are Walker High School, Walker Freshman High, Westside Junior High, North Corbin Junior High, North Corbin Elementary, Levi Milton Elementary, Walker Elementary, South Walker Elementary and South Fork Elementary.