Gainesville MS site proposal

This conceptual mockup shows a likely footprint for the proposed new, $70 million Gainesville middle school, which would be built on the Gainesville Junior High School campus. Final designs would be made if and when Gainesville ISD voters approve a bond issue to pay for the work on Tuesday.

A new, $70 million middle school for Gainesville Independent School district is up for approval Tuesday.

The project, intended to replace the aging Gainesville Junior High School, could cost district property owners up to another 27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on annual tax bills – about $270 more for a property worth $100,000.

Gainesville ISD Superintendent Desmontes Stewart told the Register this week that the junior high – built in 1958 – is getting more expensive to operate, needs a new roof and doesn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in places.

“We have a facilities assessment done a few years back where they really looked at not only the instructional integrity of our facilities, but also the safety and security within our buildings ... it was deemed that our building has exceeded its useful life,” Stewart said. “Furthermore, as we talk about trying to present or provide our students with the 21st century learning environment, it’s very difficult in that current building.”

Old cinder block buildings are more expensive to heat and cool, as thick walls take longer to warm up and store heat in fall and winter, as well as to cool off in spring and summer.

“Things like being able to cool our classrooms down, heat our classrooms up, you know, all of those things play a part in the overall educational experience of our kids … right now, that building needs a $2 million roof over the instructional side and a $225,000 roof over the auditorium; regardless of the result of the bond (vote), we’re going to have to shell out $2 million to put a brand new roof on a 64-year old-building.”

Stewart said he and the school board understand that raising property taxes is never popular, but he points out that the district’s levy has dropped steadily in recent years – from $1.28 per $100 to the current rate of $1.06. He added that the school district eyes rising property values and more housing developments, such as Black Hill Farm on Gainesville’s west side and Chalmers Estates on the east side, to raise much of the money to help cover the bonds.

The superintendent also pointed out that homeowners 65 and older won’t be affected financially by the proposed tax hike, provided that they have applied for homestead exemptions.

Firm financing and design plans won’t happen unless the bonding authority is approved in Tuesday’s election. Should that happen, Stewart said the project may be financed with a series of bonds – total value not to exceed $70 million.

Elsewhere on the ballot, Eastern Cooke County voters will decide whether or not Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department may establish a tax district to fund its operations. County ambulance service would not be affected by the vote.

Polling sites on Tuesday are as follows:

New Gainesville Middle School

Precincts 1, 3, 5, 31: Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St., Gainesville;

Precincts 2, 30, 34, 35: First Christian Church, 401 N. Dixon St., Gainesville;

Precincts 4, 26, 27: Hillcrest Church of Christ, 1712 E. O’Neal St., Gainesville;

Precincts 6, 9: Callisburg Community Center, 92 McDaniel St., Whitesboro (Callisburg);

Precincts 7, 28: Tabernacle Baptist Church, 305 CR 194, Gainesville

Precinct 8: Callisburg Elementary School, 648 FM 3164, Gainesville;

Precinct 10: Mt. Springs Community Center, 173 Mt. Springs Lane, Valley View (Mt. Springs);

Precinct 11: Valley View Baptist Church, 504 N. Lee, Valley View;

Precincts 12, 14: Era Community Center, 102 Malone St., Era;

Precinct 15: Myra Volunteer Fire Department, 102 Malone St., Myra;

Precinct 17: Muenster VFW, 136 Ash St.;

Precinct 18: First Baptist Church, Muenster, 121 N. Pecan St., Muenster;

Precincts 19, 21: Conrad Hall, 431 Ash St., Lindsay;

Precinct 20, 27: East Side Church of Nazarene, 1415 S. Radio Hill Rd., Gainesville;

Precinct 22: Lake Kiowa Lodge, 905 W. Kiowa Drive, Lake Kiowa;

Precinct 33: Moss Lake Fire Station, 160 FM 1201 Ext., Gainesville.

Indian Creek ESD

Precinct 7: Tabernacle Baptist Church, 305 CR 194, Gainesville;

Precinct 8: Callisburg Elementary School, 648 FM 3164, Gainesville (Woodbine);

Precinct 10: Mt. Springs Community Center, 173 Mt. Springs Lane, Valley View (Mt. Springs);

Precinct 11: Valley View Baptist Church, 504 N. Lee, Valley View;

Precinct 22: Lake Kiowa Lodge, 905 W. Kiowa Drive, Lake Kiowa.

Amendments

There are also eight proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on Tuesday’s ballot:

Proposition 1 (HJR 143) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Proposition 2 (HJR 99) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

Proposition 3 (SJR 27) – “The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

Proposition 4 (SJR 47) – “The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

Proposition 5 (HJR 165) – “The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Proposition 6 (SJR 19) – “The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Proposition 7 (HJR 125) – “The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Proposition 8 (SJR 35) – “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

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