School district will see a new Gulfport High School

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport School District will soon see a new high school as well as improvements to five other schools in the district after overwhelming support from voters.

The bond issue only needed 60 percent approval from voters, but 80 percent of voters supported the $41 million bond issue.

Gulfport High students and supporters of the bond vote filled Bayou Bluff Tennis Club to celebrate the passing of the bond issue.

"We've been waiting for a while because we've been seeing all these new schools, Biloxi and West Harrison. We've just been waiting for our new school and we're finally excited to have one," said Gulfport High School student Pierce Weatherly.

"I'm so happy for Gulfport. All the people that have put in so much work and to see it being passed is such an honor," said Gulfport High School student Garrett Hearn.

More than 3,000 people living in the Gulfport School District voted in this special election. Poll workers say they saw more voters for this election than the most recent municipal election.

"When you have an election that involves your children and taxes people have an opinion on both. So they're going to share that passion by going to vote and voice their opinion that way," said Gulfport Election Commissioner Ferrell Alman.

Work on the bond issue has been two years in the making.

School leaders say though the new school is an investment for the community and its children, there was still opposition.

"We had some people that didn't want their taxes raised and we understand that. We agree with that. We don't want new taxes either, but we also understand the importance of a new high school and what great public education means to the city," said Steven Warren, the vice president of Gulfport Board of Trustees.

Gulfport school District Superintendent Glen East says none of this would be possible without the help of several groups.

"The hard work of our strategic planning team, tons of parents, tons of students, the community, and the community leaders have come together and passed a very good bond issue for Gulfport School District," East said.

The school board will have to certify the election during the June 3 meeting. Then the architect will finalize the plans on the project.

Demolition and construction will begin after the New Year and construction is expected to be completed in about three years. Classes will not be impacted.

Officials say taxes for the bond issue will affect those who live in the Gulfport School District. And will likely take into effect January 2015. Taxes on a $100,000 home will increase by about $40 annually which actually increases to about $100 thanks to a 1996 bond issue. That old bond expires in 2016.

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