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$30 million school bond on table in Tatum

By Angela Ward
April 29, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The Tatum Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $30 million bond package in May, Superintendent Dee Hartt said Tuesday.

"The cornerstone of the project will be a new $18 million elementary school building, but we'll also be updating various parts of other campuses, including three classrooms, the ag project barn and the band hall at the high school and the middle school cafeteria," Hartt said.

If the bond is approved, the district will re-configure which grades attend which campuses, he said. Currently, the primary school houses Pre-K through third grade; the elementary houses fourth through sixth grade; the middle school houses grades 7 and 8; and the high school houses grades 9 through 12. If a new elementary school is constructed, it will house third through fifth grades. The primary will then house grades Pre-K through 2 and the middle school grades 6 through8, with the high school grades remaining unchanged.

The bond package would reduce crowding at the primary and elementary school campuses by providing a new facility for the elementary students and reducing the number of grades housed at the primary school. Both buildings are near or at capacity, he said.

"We'll have the 2008 bond paid of within the next school year, so the board of trustees decided this was a good time to call another bond election," Hartt said. "So far, the response in the community has been very positive."The second largest item in the bond is $5.5 million for transportation, technology and maintenance costs for the next 10 years. Although these costs are typically paid as part of the annual budgets, Hartt said paying these costs as part of a bond would avoid the state recapturing part of the funds.

If the bond is passed, the tax rate will increase by 13 cents, to an estimated $1.17 per hundred dollars of valuation. The average district homeowner will see a monthly tax increase of $6.18. Homeowners 65 years or older, who have a homestead exemption will not have their taxes increased.

"While our previous bond package passed by an 84 percent margin, we aren't assuming that this one will be as successful," Hartt said. "We're just asking the residents of our district for their support."



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