Back to the drawing board: Leland readies scaled-back bond issue to go on December ballot

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Leland High School Principal Johnny Vick walks talks about the school’s structural damage Monday, September 9, 2019.

LELAND – Leland citizens will get a second chance to approve a bond issue that will renovate the schools come Dec. 10. 

On Sept. 10, the community narrowly voted down an $8.75 million bond issue, creating disappointment and division among those who voted for the measure and those who didn’t. 

This time, the proposed bond issue will be for $6.9 million. 

“[The board has] reduced the scope substantially after (hearing) from the community and made adjustments that were I guess based on a priority basis,” said Gary Bailey, the architect who is working with the district to get the schools renovated. 

School board president Brandon Taylor said some of the bigger ticket items to go were original designs for the field house and the school entryway. 

“The field house won’t be as large as we wanted it to, but it’s still going to be a new field house. The entries to the high school won’t be as large but it’s still going to look good and it’s going to be safe for the kids,” Taylor said. 

The stadium will also be scaled down by about 25 percent and renovations to the gym and auditorium were omitted, Bailey said. 

Some of the more serious issues plaguing the district are still priorities – such as lack of consistent heating and cooling. This winter the high school will have to be heated by portable heaters because the district’s insurance company declared the boiler too dangerous to operate. 

Part of the reason why some thought the bond issue failed in September was because of misinformation that swirled in the days leading up to the election. 

Taylor said the next step in moving forward is to make sure the public is as accurately informed as possible. 

“Now we’ve just got to make sure all the citizens in Leland are informed. They can come with whatever questions they have to the town hall session and they will be answered truthfully,” Taylor said.

The proposed scope for the renovations plans are as follows:

Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

A missing sink in one of the bathrooms at Leland elementary school.

Edna M. Scott Elementary School:

  • Renovations to all toilets
  • Science lab renovations
  • Roof and window renovations
  • New P.E. Building

Leland Middle School:

  • Renovate and expand toilets
  • Renovate science lab
  • Renovate halls for new heating and cooling
  • Replace intercom
  • Re-roofing

Leland High School:

    • Addition for secure front entry, lobby, administration and meeting room
    • Total replacement of heating and cooling system
    • Renovate windows
    • Re-roofing
  • Renovate flooring

Vocational School:

  • Toilet renovations
  • Minor roof repairs

Football Stadium:

  • New entry, ticket booth, concession stand and toilets
  • New fencing
  • New home and visitor dressing rooms
  • Replace bleachers and press box