Consolidating schools, traffic concerns weighing on Vancleave parents ahead of school bond vote

Residents in the Jackson County School District will vote on the $67 million, 20-year bond on May 18, 2021.
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 7:11 AM CDT
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VANCLEAVE, Miss. (WLOX) - Next week, people who live in the Jackson County School District will head to the polls to vote on a $67 million bond the district says will improve schools.

Since the bond was announced, opinions in the small communities of Vancleave, East Central, and St. Martin have been varied, with some people supporting the bond and others encouraging people to vote against it.

Many parents who live in the Jackson County School District are encouraging others to vote "no"...
Many parents who live in the Jackson County School District are encouraging others to vote "no" to the 20-year, $67 million school improvement bond.(Submitted)

The $67 million bond proposes moving the district’s administrative offices in Vancleave to the upper elementary and moving the upper students to the lower elementary, adding a 24-classroom addition to the school for the younger grades.

Consolidating those schools is the main reason that parent Marie Tanner said she is voting against the bond.

“We know we need some of these buildings, we really do,” said Tanner. “If we vote this bond issue in, it is forever - at least 20 years - and I don’t want to see any student in a school with one thousand plus kids.”

Wanda Shaw, a Vancleave mom, said she is voting for the bond because she believes the money will really benefit her child’s school - Vancleave Upper Elementary.

“When it rains at the Upper Elementary, there are cans to catch the water. The water seeps up from the ground,” said Shaw. “When our children walk from classrooms to special areas, their socks, their shoes, are soaked and they have to stay like that all day. That’s not okay.”

If the bond passes, all three Vancleave schools are in a centralized area along Highway 57, which causes traffic in the mornings and afternoons for everyone in the community trying to commute. Resident Steven Tanner says that moving the students from the Upper Elementary to the Lower Elementary will cause even more traffic headaches.

“The traffic issues we are going to have, that ain’t going to work out in the future,” said Tanner. “There’s no possible way because all that traffic that goes behind that school has got to come back out on 57.”

Posted by Keeping Kids First-Jackson County School District Bond Committee on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Keeping Kids Safe is a Facebook page that has been advocating in favor of the bond. One of its members Rogena Mitchell says the district is already looking at ways to alleviate the potential traffic congestion.

“You got to think about what that traffic is going to look like, but they are looking at changing the schedules,” said Mitchell. “So maybe the elementary comes in a little bit earlier or a little bit later than the middle school.”

READ MORE: Jackson Co. School District lays out plans for proposed $67 million bond project

The 20-year-bond project would also cover various repairs and upgrades throughout the district, including several new construction projects. Those projects include new performing arts centers at East Central High and St. Martin High, a new multipurpose gym at St. Martin High, and a new gym/multipurpose center at Vancleave High.

Classroom and cafeteria expansions would also be done at some of the schools.

If the proposed bond is approved, property taxes could increase between $6 and $8 per every $1,000, meaning if you own a home with a tax assessed (10%) value of $150,000, you could see an increase in your annual property taxes between $90 and $120, according to Jackson County School District Superintendent, Dr. John Strycker.

A special election for the $67 million bond will take place on May 18.

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