Jacksonville ISD $22.785M bond issue on ballot

Published on Monday, 7 October 2013 22:03 - Written by By Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville ISD continues to get information out about a proposed bond issue that would fund a new elementary school and more classroom space on another campus.

The $22.785 million bond issue, which is on the Nov. 5 ballot, would be for a new West Side Elementary School, as well as an additional eight classrooms, a new band hall, and converting the current band hall into classroom/storage space at Nichols Intermediate School, Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said.

According to tax rate calculator on the Jacksonville ISD website, a homeowner with an appraised value of $88,000 would pay $62.04 more per year, while the homeowner with an appraised value of $100,000 would pay $72.24 more per year. For senior citizens, their taxes are frozen at age 65, the superintendent said.

Wardell said he’s talked to seven or eight different groups, and is scheduled to talk to more as the election approaches. So far, a majority of the feedback has been positive, he said, and there are resolutions of support from groups such as the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce board, the Jacksonville College board of trustees and the Jacksonville Education Foundation.

If the bond does pass, Wardell said the new West Side will be identical to East Side Elementary School because the district wants to ensure that things are equitable throughout Jacksonville ISD, and can build a new school based on those plans at a lower architectural fee. Although it will be identical to East Side, it will start out with two wings rather than three, he said.

With two wings, he said the new West Side would hold 530 students, but another wing could be added if necessary. West Side’s current enrollment is 473.

But Wardell said the current facility was built for 399 students, and has eight portable buildings that are, on average 18 years old.

Additionally, he said, there are 46 exterior doors on the 62-year-old campus.

He said the new West Side would be located off of College Avenue, on land that the district purchased after Lon Morris College went bankrupt, and the current West Side could potentially be used for Jacksonville ISD’s alternative education program.

At Nichols Intermediate, Principal Holly Searcy has said she believes the additional space at her school would be a good asset, and specifically pointed out the growth that the band program has experienced.

Meanwhile, Wardell said the district is trying to ensure that voters are informed, and anyone with a question is welcome to call Jacksonville ISD.