‘Yes’ vote encouraged

Published 10:35 am Monday, October 10, 2016

GATESVILLE – Gates County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barry Williams addressed a Central Middle School audience last Thursday night in an effort to solicit support from county citizens to vote “yes” on the referendum to borrow the funds needed to construct a new Central Middle School.

Replacing Central Middle School will cost $16 million, which will increase the county’s property tax rate by 12 cents per $100 of valuation.

Williams said as an example that a taxpayer owning property valued at $100,000 would be taxed an additional $129 per year.

“This equates to $10 per month,” Williams said. “The new school will cost less than two Big Mac meals monthly at McDonalds or two cups of coffee at Starbucks. That is all you have to give up to have a new school for our students.”

He asked citizens to vote “yes” for the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot (early voting starts Oct. 20) that reads: “Shall the County levy a supplemental tax on all taxable property in the County in an amount not to exceed 12 cents per one hundred dollars in value of property to finance the demolition of the old Central Middle School and construct a new Central Middle School for the students of Gates County Schools and pay other capital outlay construction needs of the Gates County Schools; if approved to borrow the funds by the LGC?”

Williams said all school board members and all county commissioners support this referendum because of the dire need for new Central Middle School.

“Vote yes” yard signs, as shown by School Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams, are available at the Gates County Central Office for display by voters.

“Vote yes” yard signs, as shown by School Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams, are available at the Gates County Central Office for display by voters.

He said the current school poses many health risks for staff and students, including the risk of roof collapse from excess wind or snow, and the risk of a wall collapse if a strong wind blows just right.

Williams also said there are too many outside doors for lockdown situation, there is no automated lockdown system in place; there is inadequate security in satellite classrooms; there is an antiquated camera system; an antiquated fire alarm system; an antiquated key entry system; and no safety glass.

Williams said it would cost more to properly upgrade the school than to construct a new one.

If voters approve the new school for construction, which Williams said would take 18 months, the newest building at the old school would be saved for use as an alternative school.

Williams said current structural issues at the school include wind and storm roof capacity; wall load bearing capacity; I-Beams retrofitted; lintels 7/8th not rated for load; no airspace/insulation brick/block; single-pane windows causing energy loss that costs money and growing molds that cause health problems; no overhead insulation; no showers in locker room; inadequate single 2” main water supply; abandoned potable water below slab; wetwell grinder pump station; limited GFCI/grounding electrical; single remote thermostat; and current HVAC is at end of life cycle.

The bathrooms are not ADA compliant.

If voters agree to fund the new school it would be partly funded by a no interest Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) the state Department of Public Instruction has agreed to provide. The county would, therefore, only need $10 million in General Obligation Bonds funding through local banks.

BOE member Leslie Byrum emphasized Gates County’s history of providing county students a quality education, with parents of students from surrounding counties trying to enroll their students even though they don’t live in Gates County.

He said, “This is something our students need. It is the future of Gates County.”

Back in early August, Gates County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Linda Hofler said when discussing the new Central Middle School, it is not only the county’s duty to provide good schools, but good schools help the county have a strong, healthy economy.

Williams urged citizens to vote “yes” for the new school and to also get others out to the polls and also vote “yes.”

Other information forums will be held throughout the county to encourage citizens to support the new school.