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Harrison County school bond passes with overwhelming support

Harrison County School District sign promoting the school bond issue. (Photo Source: WLOX)
Harrison County School District sign promoting the school bond issue. (Photo Source: WLOX)(Photo Source: WLOX)
Published: Nov. 7, 2018 at 5:58 AM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Harrison County school bond referendum passed in Tuesday’s election with an overwhelming 75 percent of the vote.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, a total of 16,348 votes led the bond to a win, with only 5,381 people voting against it.

The bond will be used to build a new K-8 school on the east side of the district and a new middle school on the west side of the district. It will also include renovations and enhancements to security and safety.

The price tag on the project stands at $71 million, with $16 million coming from the district. The rest of the $55 million comes from the bond.

At an Aug. 6 school board meeting, Superintendent Roy Gill talked about the school bond and why it’s necessary.

Gill noted that based on current projections, the bond will not require a tax increase. That the overloading of D’Iberville Elementary, D’Iberville Middle, North Woolmarket and Woolmarket made expansion on the east side of the school district necessary. He also talked about a new West Harrison Middle School somewhere near County Farm Road.

“That new middle school would feed directly to West Harrison High School to where they would all go to high school there,” Gill told board members.

The board voted 4-1 to endorse the referendum.

Gill said the new West Harrison school would alleviate overcrowding concerns at North Gulfport 7th and 8th and West Wortham Middle School. If voters go along with the bond vote, Gill said North Gulfport would send 450 students to the new school and West Wortham would send 200 students.

Since the announcement of the referendum, officials in the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi have asked for more details surrounding the bond.

Gulfport City Councilman R. Lee Flowers expressed concern that the construction of two new middle schools in the county will mean a longer trip to school for students and parents living inside Gulfport city limits. Flowers thinks every effort should be made to keep children’s schools as close to their homes as possible.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich both proposed resolutions to their respective city councils requesting a delay in the school bond vote, saying they would like to see all students living in their municipalities attend city schools.

“The cities have no jurisdiction over the county schools,” Gill previously told WLOX News Now. “I never thought that there would be any opposition to a bond issue that isn’t going to require any additional taxes, especially by separate entities that have nothing to do with the county school district."

The school bond referendum needed 60 percent support to pass. The referendum was on ballots in 23 Harrison County precincts because only voters who live within the Harrison County School District voted in the referendum.

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