Upcoming bond issue enables district renovation

The upcoming bond will allow funding for a new Career and Technical Education center, theater and more

Looking+at+the+district+website+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+12%2C+District+Superintendent+Frank+Harwood+discusses+the+upcoming+bond+issue.
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Upcoming bond issue enables district renovation

Looking at the district website on Friday, Feb. 12, District Superintendent Frank Harwood discusses the upcoming bond issue.

Looking at the district website on Friday, Feb. 12, District Superintendent Frank Harwood discusses the upcoming bond issue.

By Victoria Wright

Looking at the district website on Friday, Feb. 12, District Superintendent Frank Harwood discusses the upcoming bond issue.

By Victoria Wright

By Victoria Wright

Looking at the district website on Friday, Feb. 12, District Superintendent Frank Harwood discusses the upcoming bond issue.

Elizabeth Joseph, JagWire reporter

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Voters in the community will soon have the opportunity to approve or reject a bond for the De Soto school district. A bond, which provides funding for large capital projects, has the potential to pave the way for renovations on the school, as well as the rest of the district. The bond can also fund a new Career and Technical Education center, including an Early Childhood Center within the building, that would be located on the northeast corner of 83rd Street and Mize Boulevard, near Mill Creek Middle School.

A bond is raised for large capital projects, or projects that involve funding beyond the typical amount which would normally be paid for by a capital outlay fund. The issue goes to all community members capable of voting, who decide whether or not the district is allowed to levy a tax in order to pay off the bond, which functions as a loan.

The bond was approved by the state Board of Education in January. Voters will have the chance to vote beginning in April, with results of the vote released in May.

The last time the district passed a bond was 2008, which paid for renovations for both high schools, as well as the construction of Belmont Elementary School.

According to superintendent Frank Harwood, the upcoming bond will not involve a tax increase, or mill levy, on members of the community “because of increases on [the district’s] valuation and decreases on our bond indebtedness.” Thus, the bonded interest, or the rate at which the bond is paid back, will not change because the district has paid back the bond loans taken in the past.

“[With the bond,] what we’ll be able to do is work on some projects that are much needed for the district,” Harwood said.

There are six main areas of focus for improvements and renovation: safety and security, technology, career and technical education, early childhood care, facilities improvements and future district needs.

For example, the Career and Technical Education Center is meant to meet the needs for early childhood care in addition to career and technical education, according to assistant superintendent Alvie Cater.

“The whole point of the Career and Technical Education Center would be to expose high school students to potential career paths they might not have even thought of [and] to generate interest in these unique opportunities,” Cater said. “When a student graduates from high school, we don’t want them to waste money and four years trying to figure out what they want to do.”

In order to decide where the funds from the bond would be allocated, the district held facilities focus groups over the course of several years, made up of community members and parents, in order to see what changes needed to be made.

“It’s been a pretty inclusive process with the community,” Harwood said. “When we were doing vision and mission informational sessions … one of the questions on that was, ‘If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do?’ So, a lot of these facilities projects are a part of that.”

The mail-in ballot for the bond vote will arrive around Wednesday, April 11, so Cater encourages voters to respond by Friday, April 27. He also encourages students over 18 to become registered voters.

“We have some seniors who are turning 18 [and] can register to vote,” Cater said. “This could be their very first election to exercise their voice [and] their right to vote as a citizen.”

The entirety of the bond projects are anticipated to take three to four years to complete, although planning has already begun. Harwood hopes the bond will enable students to experience greater educational opportunities.

“We [want to] help students and their understanding of different careers and skills so that students are in a better place when they leave us,” Harwood said. “We’d like [students] to be successful while they’re in school, but our ultimate goal is that they’re successful when they get out of it.”

 

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