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The Central Board of Education decided to add Proposition S.A.F.E. (Students Are First Everyday), a no-tax-increase bond issue, to the ballot this coming election.

On April 7, voters will decide whether or not the district should borrow funds in the amount of $6 million. The planned purpose for the money is to make needed improvements to district facilities, without an estimated increase in the current property tax levy.

Central Superintendent Dr. Ashley McMillian said some of the improvements the district would like to make primarily focus on making the district’s campuses safer for students.

Should the measure pass, one plan is to construct, equip, and furnish a stand-alone safe room to house the weight room, boys and girls locker rooms, wrestling practice area, and bathrooms. The board wants to convert the current high school weight room into two additional classrooms to accommodate projected enrollment increases.

“These items are consistent with our Long Range Facility Plans for the District,” McMillian said. “Constructing the stand-alone building as a Safe Room is something that came about this year through discussions with our architect.”

McMillian has mentioned in previous board meetings that the high school’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) requires upgrades. He explained that the current systems are more than 20 years old, and contractors have advised the school to replace the old units.

“We are adding HVAC to the current plans and putting an approach in place to upgrade HVAC throughout the district in future bond issues,” the superintendent said. “Luckily, the district is in a position to run this as a no-tax-increase bond issue to assist with the facility needs, in particular, the additional classroom space needed as high enrollments shift from the middle school to high school.”

Funds from the bond will also be put to use in implementing safety improvements to all facilities within the district.

Some safety improvements will include camera upgrades and “Knox boxes,” — which provide first responders with access to buildings. “U-hooks” will also be installed on all classroom doors, which help secure the entries in the event an intruder enters one of the schools.

After taking care of the most needed repairs and facility upgrades — and to the extent funds are available — complete parking lot improvements at all campuses of the district will be completed using the funds received as part of the bond if approved by voters.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com

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