Neelyville Bond Issue
It’s been fifty years since Neelyville last passed a bond issue for its school district. According to Neelyville Superintendent Brad Hagood, never has the need for funding been more desperate.
Neelyville voters are being asked to pass a $1.5 millon bond issue. If approved, the money would go to such things as building a new safe room and replacing roof. He says the district’s buildings are showing their age, with damaged ceiling tiles having been replaced again and again.
The money would come in the form of an increase in property tax, an increase of about 33 cents per $100 assessed. The current tax rate is $3.04, the new rate if the bond passes would be $3.37. Though the amount of increase being requested sounds small, it has been difficult to get approval in the past because of the number of voters who live with a reality of tight budgets themselves.
Some voters simply feel they cannot afford the increase. Comparatively speaking, school districts have deep pockets and the where-with-all to campaign for the funds they are desire from the voters.
Proponents of the issue feel this is a responsibility a community must assume in order for the district to do its job of educating the community’s young people. Hagood hopes the community is ready to support its schools. “The kids deserve it,” he concluded. He hopes the tide is ready to turn.
Similar bond issues have been voted down about a half a dozen times over the past 12 years, with the most recent election being in April. Hagood says the district has a responsibility to keep it’s buildings safe and in good repair. If the measure again fails, the only option may be to cut programs and staff.
“This is so important because we would like to provide a more safe and positive environment for our students,” explained Hagood. “The metal classroom building at Hillview is not a safe structure, and the classrooms are very small. We have roofs at both campuses that need major repair or replacement.”
If passed, a FEMA safe room will be built at Neelyville, and a new classroom will be constructed at Hillview Elementary with a hallway that will double as a safe room. But not everyone agrees this is a good use of taxpayer dollars.
Marica Jean Jones of Neelyville questions the wisdom of this expenditure. “I don’t like the idea of raising taxes,” she said. Two of Jones’ children attended Neelyville schools, as did she and her husband. “To build in a flood zone is stupid. That, to me, is throwing money in the wind. If teachers are complaining and say it is unhealthy for them to teach in that atmosphere, why have they not called in state inspectors?”
The voters will decide on Tuesday, August 5, whether to self-impose the 33 cent personal tax increase for the school system.