Unsecured, overcrowded school buildings and growing enrollment in the Jacksonville Independent School District remain the primary motivations behind the upcoming $22.8 million bond election, the superintendent explained Thursday.
During a lunchtime presentation to the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, Dr. Joe Wardell discussed the Nov. 5 bond election at length while also fielding several related questions from audience members. Dr. Wardell's presentation — which included the use of a screen — precedes a similar presentation planned for Monday's Jacksonville ISD school board meeting.
If approved by voters, the $22,785,000 in question could finance the building of a new West Side Elementary School as well as eight new classrooms and a band hall at Nichols Intermediate School.
Dr. Wardell managed to squeeze a lot of presentation into a limited amount of time during the noon Thursday Kiwanis lunch at Lupe's Mexican Restaurant. As he spoke, he also passed out information cards encapsulating the chief points of the election — a summary of the bond issue and how much it will cost. The card also included dates and times for early voting, early convenience voting, and election day itself.
The superintendent noted that West Side Elementary right now has 46 outside entrances, which makes it difficult to keep secured. Additionally, it is overcrowded, built for 399 students but housing 473, Dr. Wardell said.
"With 46 doors, anyone can walk in and there really is no way we can secure them," he said. "Also, there are 11 different buildings on that property. Very unsecured, unsafe — if that's the correct word. A very serious concern."
Further problems that need to be addressed, Dr. Wardell said, include Nichols Intermedia School being built for 651 students but having 723 currently enrolled. In that same vein, as many as 133 band students are having difficulty crowding into the band hall at its current size.
In terms of financial impact on the taxpayer, a successful bond election would cost an additional $5.16 more for a family living in the average JISD home, Dr. Wardell said. Senior homesteads should be unaffected because their taxes are frozen.
Dr. Wardell noted that several resolutions of support for the upcoming bond election have been made by the Jacksonville College board of trustees, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and the the Jacksonville Education Foundation Board of Directors.
Early voting for the bond election, incidentally, begins Oct. 21 and runs through Nov. 1 — Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each of those days at the Jacksonville Public Library
Around the middle of his presentation. Dr. Wardell started fielding bond-related questions:
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