Dennis Dupree, superintendent of the Clarksdale Municipal School District Credit: Clarksdale Municipal School District

CLARKSDALE — The $8.5 million bond issue for the repairs, renovations, and proposed athletic facilities for the Clarksdale Municipal School District passed easily Tuesday.

Wayne Winter, chair of the election committee, announced that 816 of the 1,059 votes cast were for the bond issue and 233 opposed. Although 32 absentee ballots and affidavits have yet to be counted, they won’t affect the results.

The bond issue needed 60 percent of the votes to be in favor to pass. In order to vote, the resident has to live inside of the city limits and pay school district taxes, according to Robert Tyner, president of  the districts’s Board of Trustees.

“The next step is to just step back and start gathering our thoughts on how we go from here,” said Dennis Dupree, superintendent of the district. “We will talk with the bond attorney tomorrow, and he will give us some directions on where we go from here.”

Dupree said he would like to thank all of the citizens who voted.

“This has always been about our students and its community,” said Dupree. “It has never been anything other than that and the community will see that upgrading our facilities the way that we should is going to better this community as a whole.”

Manika Kemp, principal of Clarksdale High School, said that getting this bond issue passed is a milestone for the people of Clarksdale.

Dr. Manika Kemp, principal of Clarksdale High School Credit: Clarksdale Municipal School District

“It will allow our children, our students, to have facilities that’s conducive to learning to better perform,” said Kemp. “I’m really, really glad that the community came together in support of the school system as a whole and that’s new for us here in Clarksdale.”

The machine voting took place at the Clarksdale High’s gymnasium from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m on Tuesday. After casting their votes, a few voters shared their opinions on the matter.

Michael Anthony  said he was in favor for two reasons. Anthony said his first reason was that “students deserve good facilities to learn.” Anthony said it’s demoralizing and degrading to have students going to school with loose floors and leaky roofs.

Anthony said his second and personal reason for voting yes is because he works at Coahoma County High School, and if the bond proposal passes, the school will be able to have their own athletic facilities. Clarksdale High’s current athletic facility is not on it’s campus; it’s near the Coahoma County High School grounds.

Kathy Pollard voted in favor as well. She said she has future grandchildren that will be enrolled in the public schools and cousins who are already in the school.

Alfred Kemp voted yes because it’s something “we need” and it will help uplift the students. Kemp said the repairs and new facilities will attract new and old people to this town.

Darice Hale voted yes because she said “we are in desperate need” of the repairs. Hale explained how she went to multiple schools in the district throughout her entire life. She said having better technology and better facilities could possibly give students a “better outlook on learning.”

Some voters who were opposed to the bond issue declined to provide their reasoning.

According to the Clarksdale Municipal School District website, under this special bond, the funds raised will:

• Construct a new football stadium, athletic field house and competitive tennis and track facilities on the grounds of Clarksdale High School.

• Replace the gymnasium floors, add a four classroom science lab, and a new library that meets current Mississippi Library standards at W.A. Higgins Middle School.

• Repair or replace leaking roofs at each school in the district.

• Repair the heating and cooling system at Clarksdale High School.

• Update windows at Booker T. Washington Elementary School and J.W. Stampley 9th Grade Academy to comply with current Mississippi Department of Education and building code requirements for safety.

• Replace the gymnasium floors at Kirkpatrick Elementary School.

The $8.5 million bond issue will be paid through property taxes. The estimated tax increase per month range from $7.80 to $20.11 depending on the property value.

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Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.

One reply on “$8.5M school bond issue passes in Clarksdale”

  1. Passage of this bond issue represents a win for children and a win for the entire community! When we invest in education, everybody wins! Clarksdale gets it! Congratulations to Superindent Dennis Dupree, the CSD School Board, Stakeholder Josephine Rhymes who was extremely vigilant in marketing the bond issue, the Superintendent’s Roundtable, Principal Manika Kemp, AP’s Clarence Hayes and Shawanda Shaw and the entire CMSD Community!

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