VANCLEAVE, Miss. (WLOX) - Jackson County community members will get the chance to vote for the future of its students. The bond will be divided between three Jackson County schools that need improvements to their schools.
The amount of the bond is $67,000,000 and it will be split between East Central, Vancleave, and St. Martin for improvements. The improvements range from classrooms, fine arts, to gymnasiums.
Jackson County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Strycker said he’s excited for the possible new improvements.
“Right now, our students that are in the arts, do not have proper facilities for what they do in band, Choir drama and so on and so of course, that makes a difference. We wouldn’t have the football team playing football in the grass yard, you have a nice stadium with artificial turf, and I don’t begrudge that, I think that’s awesome for art students deserve the same,” said Strycker.”
Most community members are voicing their opinions on social media criticizing the bond issue. Some believe there aren’t enough classroom repairs compared to recreational and extracurricular facilities.
Strycker said that people can have different definitions on what’s considered educational and what’s considered extracurricular. He said even though classroom enhancements are on the list, it’s best to use bond money for larger facilities and the general fund for classroom improvements.
“What’s being viewed as extracurricular like auditoriums, performing arts center gymnasiums, typically you need bond money so you can get those projects done at once. Whereas with the classrooms as we need to add classrooms and again we had a demographic study done,” said Strycker. “So we’re very calculated on where we’ll need to do that, we can use general fund money. The board has been using about roughly $2 million a year for facilities, you can use that money to add classrooms as you need to because those are are less scale projects than your bigger projects like your auditoriums and gymnasiums. There are several classrooms that are part of this bond project. So again, I encourage people to go to our website and see that that classroom is the classroom is the priority.”
People are also concerned as to why the St. Martin community may get more money than the East Central and Vancleave schools. Strycker explained that administration looked at data when deciding to split the bond between the three communities.
He also said the board considers the amount of square footage, past expenditures, and tax base.
“St. Martin has roughly 46 to 47% of the tax base, roughly 46 to 47% of the student body, and they’re getting 42% of the money. So if you’re from St. Martin you may not be seeing it that way. You may be saying, ‘Hey, we have 46 to 47% of students we’re getting 42%,” said Strycker. “But again, it was a compromise because that’s not the only piece of data we looked at, we looked at the condition of the facilities, we looked at student enrollment past expenditures. So it was really it, it was tough to come up with that. We did the best we could with what we felt to recommend to the board and what the board felt would be best for our community as a whole.”
Strycker said regardless of what the final vote is on the bond issue, people still need to stick together to come up with ways that best suits student’s needs.
“We sought input and we did the best we could as a school to come up with a plan, but at the end of the day, our taxpayers will decide whether they support this plan or not. And at the end of the day, we’re still school family,” said Strycker. “At the end of the day, we all love our children and did the best we could, and I just want our community to know that because it gets heated with something like this. It doesn’t need to be. We all did the best the community will decide whether we move forward or not, but after it’s all said and done after me team, we’re still school families, we still need to do best, what’s best for our children.”
Voting on the Jackson County School bond will be May 18.