On April 19, Long Beach residents will vote on a bond issue that would partially fund the first building phase of a new high school. In September, the district will pay off an $8.7 million dollar bond, but school officials want this bond to roll over, and be increased to $11 million dollars.
The 2-mill increase would be added to residents' car tag fees and property taxes. For instance, a person who owns a $100-thousand dollar home would pay about $20 more each year in property taxes.
In a public meeting Monday night, Long Beach school superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton answered questions from residents.
Long Beach Percussion Theater members practiced one of their numbers for an upcoming national competition. The team is ranked number one in the nation, but the school's band director says the gym where they practice is not a first-rate facility.
"After some of the facilities that we've practiced in, the middle schools, they dominate. It makes ours look like an elementary school gym," said Casey Caviness, Long Beach High School's Band Director.
One building over from the gym, Long Beach Superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton explained why she believes the city needs a new high school and addressed written questions from the crowd.
"The first phase, if approved, will take two to three years to build, and then the second phase, we hope to start building right after that," Hamilton said.
The high school was built in 1958. The last attempt to build a new high school was before Hurricane Camille hit in 1969.
"There were plans by the district administrator and board to come out with a bond issue request in the November election for a new high school, but then Hurricane Camille hit in August of that year, and that destroyed the tax base."
Hamilton hopes history doesn't repeat itself and that 60-percent of Long Beach voters will say yes to the bond so the first phase of work can begin. But that decision ultimately lies in the hands of the city's voters.
Two sites have been mapped out for the new school. One spot is north of the Middle School, the other is on Commission Road.