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Voters to Decide on School Tax Issues Saturday

Monroe, Lincoln Parish, and Winn Parish voters hold the future of the city school district in their hands Saturday.
Monroe voters hold the future of the city school district in their hands Saturday.

A bond issue is on the ballot and Monroe's superintendent says the district needs that money to make essential updates to schools. 

"Our facilities are 52 years old on average. And a lot of maintenance needs to be done to them," says Dr. Brent Vidrine. 

He's leading the charge to ask voters for support. 

"It affects us the next 20 years," says Vidrine. 

It's a ballot issue, asking Monroe citizens to continue paying a millage they approved back in 1994. 

Superintendent Vidrine says the millage is a renewal and actually a reduction. It includes elementary schools, like Lexington, and the high schools, like Neville.

"Basically what we've done, is we've reduced it from 18 mills to 13.65 mills," he says. 

Vidrine took our camera inside several schools to show us what needs attention.

"It's 2014, these restrooms are probably 50 years old right here and they're functional, but they need to totally come in and that's our goal. All of our elementary schools are in the same situation," says Vidrine. 

Clara Hall is just one example. Vidrine says the bathrooms aren't the only area needing to be flushed with an update. The cafeterias and kitchens are ordering a facelift as well. 

"They're old and need updating. I mean look at the exposed pipes and everything, come in and re do the entire kitchen," says Vidrine inside Clara Halls cafeteria. 

At Wossman High School, Vidrine and other leaders say new paint is giving the football field a fresh look, but under the purple and gold, it's falling apart. 

"We want to come in and upgrade everything to where it's in the 2000s. Upgrade everything where it's really nice and everything. Just make everything where it should look nice. First class," says Vidrine. 

He wants to put turf in and new tracks, making it possible for all teams to play on a safe and presentable stage. 

"We can do a lot better. We can do a lot better for our fans, for our community, for our students, and that's the goal. That's why we're asking them to support our tax," says Vidrine. 

Behind the scenes, the superintendent says technology improvements need to happen. And while those can often be expensive, they can have the biggest impact on kids in the classroom. 

"Those are the areas that we're looking to address those concerns, but we're going to address everything across the district," says Vidrine. 

According to school district documents, the 58.8-million dollars will be split up between schools and other facilities in the following way:

Barkdull Faulk - $1,071,000
Berg Jones - $850,840
Carver - $1,118,589
Clara Hall - $1,642,494
Clark - $872,468
Cypress Point - $1,277,668
Jefferson - $1,287,630
Lexington - $1,833,270
Lincoln - $1,391,000
Madison Foster - $974,800
Minnie Ruffin - $1,505,000
Sallie Humble - $1,662,500
Carroll Jr. High - $1,023,211
Lee Jr. High - $912,840
Martin Luther King - $1,906,900
Carroll High - $5,212,252
Neville High - $5,964,200
Wossman High - $5,298,605
Sherrouse - $657,000
Central Office - $315,000
Maintenance Building - $233,000
Technology - $7,210,000
Transportation $2,475,000
Warehouse & Energy Management - $5,775,00

He's says he's confident parents, teachers, and the community will support the tax, but worries about the long term effects if they don't.

"Overall, it would be devastating. Devastating to the district for the next 20 years," says Vidrine. 

Other voters also have school tax issues to decide on.

In Lincoln Parish, school officials are asking voters to extend a tax approved in 2004. It's expected to generate 21-million dollars over ten years. Officials say the 2004 tax was more than 18 mills, this tax rate is 11 mills. The money will continue to pay for school improvements including those at athletic facilities and security enhancements. 

Also in Winn Parish, the school board is hoping tax payers will continue to support the district. Their tax renewal would generate about five million dollars over ten years. The millage is set at just over eight mills. The funds would pay for school improvements. 

Election day is this Saturday, November 16th. 
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