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Members of the Gainesville Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously agreed this week to postpone the district’s May 2 elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Monday, March 23, vote postpones the district’s $35.1 million bond and school board elections until Nov. 3. Board members Will Presson and Phil Neelley were absent during Monday’s meeting at the Gainesville ISD Administration Building, 800 S. Morris St.

Discussion about postponing the bond election took place during an emergency called meeting at the administration building Wednesday, March 18, when Superintendent DesMontes Stewart told members of the district’s board of trustees that Gov. Greg Abbott had just suspended provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow local governments to postpone their May 2 elections.

At the March 18 meeting, board members, which the exception of Neelley who was not present, voiced their opinion about moving the proposed bond’s election date. Board members said it would be best to hold off asking for a bond at this time.

Members of the district’s board of trustees unanimously approved calling for a May bond election during a specially called meeting Feb. 6.

If approved, the bond would cover expanding Robert E. Lee Intermediate, 2100 N. Grand Ave., for $13,013,400; expand W.E. Chalmers Elementary, 600 Radio Hill Road, for $12,781,954; and make various capital improvements throughout the district for $9,263,176, for a total of $35,058,530, according to previous reports in the Register.

Should the bond pass, Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, 1 Edison Drive, would be decommissioned from student use.

School officials previously told the Register that the purchase of playground equipment was on hold until election season was over after reporting Edison had unsafe and limited playground equipment. However, since the bond election has been postponed, board members agreed Monday evening to move forward with buying new equipment for Edison and Chalmers.

The Edison playground purchase with Plano-based Hunter Knepshield of Texas Inc. totals $123,606, according to information provided to board members. The purchase includes a new playground and a handicap accessible piece.

Chalmers received a new playground last year, Stewart previously said. The only purchase approved for that campus was a handicap accessible piece for $88,750 from the same Plano-based company, information shows.

The approved playground equipment was already budgeted, Stewart said.

The Monday meeting also postponed the district’s one contested school board race.

Latecia Hendricks and Charlie Pickett each applied for Mike Rosenberg’s Place 1 seat by the Friday, Feb. 14, deadline, according to an archived Register report.

According to a post on the Texas Secretary of State’s website, under the Texas Constitution, individuals who currently hold public offices that are scheduled to be on the ballot on the May uniform election date will continue to exercise the duties of those offices until the new officers take their oaths of office, following the November election date.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

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