Taxpayers to vote on WOCCISD bond issue
Only weeks after necessity forced West Orange-Cove CISD to reduce its dedicated teaching staff by more than 60 due to a budget reduction, the Board of Trustees for the district has brought before voters a request to borrow more than six million dollars from the federal government in a bond issue associated with the Federal Stimulus Package. On May 14, voters will decide if this is the right move for WO-CCISD to make. As of June, the district will lose the opportunity to obtain the available federal money.
This new bond issue comes after a 2007 bond issue for $47.5 million which was allotted to the construction of the new West Orange-Stark Elementary School in Pinehurst. The largest school building in Orange County boasts 86 classrooms, two gyms, and an enormous library, a total of 240,000 square feet. The new school replaced Anderson Elementary School and Lorena Oates Elementary School. WO-S Elementary opened on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in August 2010, less than a year ago.
The destination of the money to be borrowed has not been specifically stated. The new Superintendent James Colbert, who admitted in an interview with another local media source “we have not done a lot of the things we agreed to do in 2007,” defended the decision to borrow federal money by saying “the availability of the federal stimulus money is too good to pass up.” Colbert feels that there are numerous plausible uses for the money and, because of the low interest rate of .02 percent, feels that it would be irresponsible to pass it up, especially in the current financial crisis.
The $6.075 million Qualified School Construction Bond is part of a Federal Stimulus Package, which is specifically designated for the renovation and renewal of school properties which, in theory, would create local jobs as well as a new enthusiasm for education.
One of the suggestions for the stimulus money is the construction of a new track at West Orange-Stark High School, one that would come with a hint of melancholy after the premature retirement of WO-S Head Coach Dan Hooks. The coach who replaces Hooks may be working on a new track.
Another possibility for the borrowed money is a renovation of the Anderson School, which was replaced by the new elementary school. Colbert also admited in the interview that the school is really “not that old.” He intends to make good use of it. The money will be used to replace heating and air conditioning units. Alternative classes for students with behavior problems will be held there. Also, the district’s administrative buildings, technology department, and board room will be located there. Furthermore, the newly renovated school is expected to be a vital part of the surrounding community in Orange.
The new Elementary school could also receive playground equipment and fencing. These important elements of the facility were not accomplished with the 2007 bond issue as one might expect they would. On the May 14 election, taxpayers will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on the issue.