HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - School leaders in Hancock County have a long list of improvements they’d like to make to the district’s aging facilities, and they’re hoping voters will approve a $16 million bond to pay for it all. One selling point is that the bond, if passed, will not increase taxes on residents.
Many of the upgrades and repairs will take place at Hancock High School and the Hancock Career Technical Center. Those are the two oldest campuses in the district, having opened in 1990 and 1974, respectively.
A bucket sits on top of a desk in science lab at Hancock High School, but it’s not for experiments. It’s for catching leaks.
“The smell is pretty pungent in here," said Principal Tara Ladner as she walked through the lab. The air ventilation system is failing at the high school.
“The central line from the chillers that brings the water to each system in the classroom is good. It’s the pipes that come off the central line that come into the classroom that need to be replaced," Ladner said.
“Our students deserve nice facilities, but nice facilities are also important in hiring and retaining the best and brightest teachers for our students,” explained School Superintendent Alan Dedeaux. “Facilities, infrastructure, technology, and transportation, they all work together to give our students a strong educational experience. By putting money into our schools, its investing in our children, it’s investing in our community."
Dedeaux said this bond is about more than just current needs; It’s also about the future. The list of proposed projects include safety and security upgrades, a new multi-purpose field house at the high school, and other infrastructure improvements.
- Upgrades and maintenance of playgrounds on all four elementary campuses
Hancock Middle School
- The addition of dressing/locker rooms to gym
Hancock High School
- Renovation of all restrooms
- Upgrade of life safety systems (fire alarms, etc.)
- Redesign of the ceiling in the commons area for energy efficiency
- New multi-purpose field house
- New restrooms and concession area at the football field
- Enhanced security entrance to the football field
- Improved night lighting in the sports complex area
- Additional security cameras at the sports complex area
- Remodel of weight room area in gym
- Drainage work
Career Technical Center
- Upgrade of electrical
- New flooring in F Building
- New gutters on G Building
- Drainage work
Performing Arts Center
- Addition of 4 new classrooms
- Ten new buses
- New District Administration Building
School leaders said upgrades to the football stadium and the proposed projects in the sports complex area will not only benefit the sports programs, but also large district events held at the stadium, like graduation.
“It’s just going to be a tremendous advantage for our students for our children for years to come," Dedeaux said. “Our district has great pride in the community support we have received in the past and continue to receive from our parents, business partners, and community members. We are counting on our community and the residents of Hancock County to support this bond issue and help us create up-to-date, more secure facilities for our students, faculty, staff and for the entire community."
The resolution for the bond proposal received unanimous support from the school board during this week’s meeting. Hancock County residents will have the opportunity to vote on the bond proposal on March 26.
Back in 2012, Hancock County voters passed a similar school issue, also for $16 million, and with no tax increase. That improvement project renovated the old school gym at Hancock North Central Elementary School, which was built in the 50′s. It also added new classrooms to South Hancock Elementary and Hancock Middle School, as well as other improvements to all seven campuses in the district. It helped pay to remodel the Hancock High cafeteria, the band practice field, athletic facilities and design the Performing Arts Center as well.