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Silsbee voters to decide on $29 million school district bond
SILSBEE- by Haley Bull
Silsbee voters will get a second chance Wednesday to pass a bond issue that failed by only 13 votes in May. The $29 million bond would pay for a new elementary school and other improvements.
If the votes goes the way the Silsbee School District plans, students could be going to a brand new elementary school.
"This is not a bond based on wants, this is a bond based on our needs," Richard Bain, superintendent of Silsbee ISD, said.
He said the district needs the money to improve air quality, security and technology.
"We just reached a critical point that we've got to do something," Bain said.
An IBM clock hangs in Read-Turrentine Elementary School. It's been stuck on the same hour and minute for years. The wiring in the building is so old, the district's superintendent said it wouldn't support equipment for early voting on the bond issue, and the doors into the hallways have little security.
"We've got things that have to be done that we can't afford to take care of out of our own budget," Bain said.
The district estimates the tax impact to be 22.24 cents. For a Silsbee home valued around $61,000, this means an increase of about $8.54 a month.
The bond would upgrade Laura Reeves Elementary School and Edwards-Johnson Memorial Silsbee Middle School. It would also demolish and combine Kirby and Read-Turrentine elementary schools.
If the bond passes, the new elementary school would be built next to Laura Reeves Elementary School and hold around 1,300 1st-5th grade students. It's estimated it would cost nearly $25.5 million.
Some parents waiting to pick up their kids at Kirby Elementary said the cost is worth it.
"I think it would be good for the kids to have a new school. Some of these schools are really old. I know I went to them and I think my parents even went to some of them," Britni Strother said.
Other parents waiting in line opposed the bond.
"I just think the age difference is a big thing as well. I mean I really don't want 4th and 5th graders with kindergarteners and all that," Karylanne Hebert said.
The district is counting on parents to change the outcome of a bond that failed by only 13 voters the last time.
"Just trying to do a better job of getting the word out and make sure people understand there is a bond out there," Bain said.
Early voting totals already exceed total votes from May's failed bond by more than 200.
Polls are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday at First Assembly of God Church in Silsbee.