GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The polls are open today for folks who live in the Gulfport School District to cast their votes on an important bond issue. Almost six weeks ago, a $41 million bond issue was proposed to build a new Gulfport High School. The bond would also fund improvements at four elementary schools and to Bayou View Middle School.
Election Commissioner Ferrel Alman said Tuesday morning he was expecting to see a pretty good turnout.
"With this you have a lot of passion involved because you have an election that is going to involve kids, it's going to involve your taxes. So, I think there is going to be a lot more people that have a lot of interest," Alman said.
That passion was on display Monday as student groups, like the Gulfport High School basketball team, spread the word about Tuesday's vote.
"It's something we desperately need, not only for the students, but also for the community of Gulfport. So, it's a great cause and it's something we're all behind," said GHS Basketball Head Coach Owen Miller.
Coach Miller brought his team out to the corner of Courthouse Road and Highway 90 to hold signs in support of the bond.
The original high school was built in 1965, and although sections were renovated in '96, most of it has remained untouched for almost 50 years. For students like Lee Harper, the renovation has a sentimental draw that he hopes the public will realize.
"I care so much because I came to this school and I respect everyone at the school, and it's a school that I've loved being at," said Harper.
Being a sophomore, he wouldn't see the completed job before he graduates. But his concern went beyond his own high school career.
"The class behind me, the class of 2017, they can enjoy it, and the class behind them," said Harper.
Looking out for the younger classes is also something that Daniel Jones had in mind.
"The kids that are under us are going to have a better school, where they're going to get to learn better because of the better buildings that are going to be there. There will be a nicer music building, which I'm excited about," said Jones, who is part of the Gulfport High Choir. He said it would be nice to see improvements in departments like the arts that are usually last on the list for spending.
But, no matter what department they were in, the students all had one goal in mind. They wanted the citizens to vote yes to GHS.
If 60 percent of Gulfport voters approve the school bond, property taxes on a $100,000 home will go up $39.20 from what they are today. Here's the key: Gulfport property tax bills today include a 1996 school bond that added $64 to tax rolls. That bond expires in 2016.
So, if the bond passes, a Gulfport homeowner will pay $104 more a year. Why $104? Because homeowners will pay the $39.20 increase with this bond and what amounts to an extension of the 1996 bond that was about to come off the books.
If the bond fails, taxes will drop in 2016 by $64, because that's when the 1996 bond comes off the books.
Remember, this election is only for people who live in the Gulfport School District, not for Gulfport residents who are part of the Harrison County School District.
Also, a picture ID is not required for this election. Voters will be required to show a photo ID for the first time next Tuesday for the US House and Senate primaries, and for every election thereafter.
The polls in Gulfport are open until 7pm tonight. Watch for the results on WLOX.com and tonight on WLOX News at 10pm.