On the first try, voters on Tuesday approved a $55 million referendum to build two new schools and repair others in the Harrison County School District.
Early unofficial results Tuesday night showed voters overwhelmingly approved the bond issue.
The district has committed $16 million toward the cost of the project, bringing the proposed cost to $71 million, said Roy Gill, superintendent of Harrison County School District.
Gill hugged Alfred Sexton, one of the volunteers on the Committee for Better Education for Harrison County, as the results for North Bay precinct were announced. There 80 percent of the voters approved the bond.
“The children of Harrison County need this,” Gill said. He told the volunteers and school board members, “You pushed, you worked. You’ve done an outstanding job.”
Gill said that with the funds the district has on hand, work can start immediately on the process, but it will take some time to get the bond issued and improvements will begin.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich had said in a guest editorial in the Sun Herald that they think students who live in their cities should go to school in Gulfport and Biloxi instead of in Harrison County.
Hewes said they aren’t opposed to a bond for the schools, but he thinks the city should be part of the discussion since the majority of the taxes to fund the bond are going to come from residents of Gulfport
“It stands to reason that this be seen as a partnership,” he said. “If it passes — great. If it doesn’t pass hopefully we’ll have some to more to talk about,” he said.
“If we can take emotion out of the discussion we can probably reach a good conclusion,” Hewes said.