- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - On April 28, Tupelo voters will decide whether to allow their public school district to issue $44 million in new bonds without increasing taxes. To win approval, 60 percent of voters must vote in favor of it.

The “Safe and Sound” bond issue, unlike most traditional ones, wouldn’t be used to fund new construction projects, but instead would support upgrades such as security features, new technology and classroom additions.

“Because of state underfunding, you will see districts across the state go for bond issues that are not traditional bond issues,” Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said. “Without that, we probably would still have the bond, but the needs would be different.”

According to a report from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1P42YvR), the bond funds would be used to install new heating and cooling units as well as to replace roofing, flooring and ceiling tile in several schools. Funding also would go toward purchasing buses, MacBook computers, energy-efficient lights, video cameras and shatter-proof window films.

“We have to understand if we want something to be done in our district, we have to do it ourselves,” said Mike Clayborne, co-chairman of a 21-member citizen committee in support of the bond. “The state should be doing more, but its past history gives us little confidence.”

Since 2008, Mississippi’s public schools have received $1.7 billion less in funding.

If approved, the district likely would issue the bonds in two or three series over a two-year period with the largest bond possibly being a 20-year issue.

The bond committee has held two public forums to inform teachers, parents, and civic clubs about the bond issue.

“As a parent, there is a certain level, an expectation we thought about moving to Tupelo and making our home here,” said Amy Tate, co-chairwoman of the 21 citizen committee. “This is a way to make sure that level is ensured and our needs are met for our children.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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