Students at Henderson Middle School attend an older facility with foundation problems, safety issues and inadequate technology infrastructure, one district official has said.

But those conditions could change if voters approve a $27 million bond next month. That bond, which will be voted on May 11, would fund a new middle school on the site of the current facility.

Officials have said the district will incorporate three older middle school buildings, including the band hall and sixth-grade wing, into a new campus.

An official opposition group has not formed, but the Henderson Middle School Bond Political Action Committee formed in support of the issue.

The group has been busy working with civic and community organizations to get their support, Steven Booker, chairman of the committee, said.

He said they also planned to participate today in Rusk County Electric Cooperative's chili cook-off and will have three billboards going up in the coming weeks.

The main goal, he said, has been educating the community about the need for the bond and how the bond is going to affect them.

In discussing the need for a new middle school, district officials have cited safety concerns and the age of the current facility, which has separate buildings and many entrances.

Superintendent Keith Boles has said the new school would be one story, and students would no longer have to go outside in between classes because everything would be under one roof.

Boles has said the current middle school is full and houses 770 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. In kindergarten, first and second grades, Henderson ISD has an estimated 900 students. Core classes at the new middle school would have a capacity of about 975, Boles said in February.

As far as taxes, Booker said the bond will affect residents minimally compared to what the pay off will be.

If the issue passed, there would be a 9-cent tax rate increase for district residents. That means someone whose home value was $100,000 before local and state exemptions is projected to pay an additional $4.88 per month, according to the district website. According to the Rusk County Appraisal District, the average Henderson ISD home in 2012 was about $88,800.

"It's just a matter of educating the community …" Booker said. "What "we're trying to get people to understand is our kids are worth it."

This is the third time a new middle school has gone before the public.

In 2011, voters narrowly defeated a $26 million bond that would have funded a middle school.

Before that, a $39.2 million bond failed in November 2010 that would have funded a middle school, renovations and additions at Northside Intermediate School, an auditorium at Henderson High School and artificial turf at Lions Stadium.

This time, supporters have worked to educate the public on the issue and let them know that none of the money will go to extracurricular activities, and all $27 million is specifically for education purposes, Booker said.

"I think that's a big deal for the voters here," he said.

Boles has estimated the new middle school would take two years to complete, making it ready for students as early as August 2015.

For more information on the bond, including a tax calculator and renderings, visit www.hendersonisd.org.

 

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