By Jeff Shultz
Voters in the Elmore City-Pernell School District will go to the polls this Tuesday, August 28, to decide the fate of a $250,000 transportation bond issue that has drawn some opposition in the past few weeks since the school district announced the upcoming election.
According to EC-P Superintendent of Schools Donny Darrow, the bond issue will allow the school district to purchase three new buses or several low mileage buses.
A brand new bus would cost approximately $80,000 where a good, low mileage used bus would be anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000, Darrow added.
“The buses will not be activity buses, but buses used each day for the routes,” Darrow told the News Star last month.
The district currently has two old buses with an excess of 125,000 miles on each of them.
“This concerns us,” Darrow said, noting the biggest concern for administration and school board members is the students’ safety.
Darrow notes if the bond issue is passed it would mean no tax increase for property owners.
However, the bond issue isn’t without its critics.
One Elmore City man, who says he has plenty of supporters who are against the proposed bond issue, says Darrow’s claims are false.
In a flier and letter to the editor delivered to the News Star, Dwayne Cassell of Elmore City is fervently opposing the measure.
“Our country is so deep in debt that we will never get out of it. Our school system is asking the property owners to go deeper in debt,” Cassell states in his letter.
Cassell said Darrow isn’t telling the whole truth when he claims the bond issue will not increase property taxes if it is passed Tuesday.
“The school states that it will not raise our property taxes, but they failed to tell the public that it will extend our property taxes for a much longer period of time,” Cassell added.
Calling his supporters “the people,” Cassell noted he and others believe the school district should be working to get out of debt rather than going deeper in debt.
Concerning the high mileage on the old buses the district is hoping to replace, Cassell noted 100,000 miles on a diesel engine is not much if the engine is properly maintained.
“We need a skilled mechanic to maintain the existing school buses rather than purchasing new ones,” he said.
Cassell said the school district is flip-flopping on whether to purchase new or used buses, calling the proposal “wishy-washy.”
“We need an exact and accurate accounting of what our tax dollars are to be spent on,” he said.
Cassell also questions the need for new school buses when school enrollment is declining, claiming several students are being transferred to other school districts in the county.
Meanwhile, Darrow and school officials are keeping an upbeat attitude about the upcoming election despite the opposition to the bond issue.
“We are looking forward to a positive outcome,” Darrow said.
“We have sent home fliers with our students and we just want to encourage everyone to make it out to the polls and vote yes, this is very important to our school,” Darrow added.
Tuesday’s election will also mark a run off race for Republican voters in Garvin County.
GOP ballots will feature a run off between Corey Brooks and Peggy Davenport.
The winner of that race will face Democrat Mike Fullerton in the November General Election.
Polls will open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.