Central High Voters to Consider School Bond Issue

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Central High voters will go to the polls on August 23 not only to consider primary run-off candidates, but to determine whether Central High Public Schools will get a new elementary facility via a $14.5 million dollar bond issue.

The Board of Trustees approved the resolution calling for the bond issue on May 9 but the idea has been in the works for the school district since August 2021, when the Long Range Facilities Committee began work with the Board and the community to develop a plan for the district.

Needs identified via meetings with faculty, administrators, and the public include additional classroom space; safety issues such as students having to travel between buildings during inclement weather and exposure to potential security risks; traffic flow around campus; and students and faculty having to seek shelter at separate buildings or at a community shelter during severe weather events.

According to bond issue materials provided by Central High Public Schools, the plan to construct a new elementary school facility addresses safety issues, including constructing a FEMA-rated tornado shelter over the main corridor and limiting access to the facility via internal controls.

The proposed floor plan for the new facility also provides classroom space for Pre-K and Kindergarten, which are currently in portable buildings on campus and a larger drop-off and pick-up area to reduce congestion on the campus.

Central High Superintendent Kevin Dyes emphasized that the bond issue would be a continuation of the current bond program and will not increase taxes.

“The current Ad Valorem tax rate is 35 mills,” Dyes said.” The current Ad Valorem taxes are paying the bonds for the new gym. As the bonds for the new gym are retired, the bonds for the New Elementary School will be paid for with the same Ad Valorem taxes and tax rate.”

Dyes added that the projected timeline for completion would be Spring of 2024.

“If the bond is approved in August, construction plans would be completed by October, bidding would occur in November and construction could begin by January of 2023 for completion and occupation by Spring of 2024. This is a projected timeline, obviously any number of factors could impact this timeline,” Dyes said.

Election day is August 23 from 7am – 7pm. Early voting will be available August 18 and 19 from 8am - 6pm and August 20 from 8am – 2pm. Early voting will take place at the Stephens County Election Board in Duncan.

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