Marshall pens open letter to voters

Dear Mount Pleasant ISD voters:

   As many of you already know, Mount Pleasant Independent School District has called for a $55 million bond that we will vote on this spring.  If the school bond passes, Mount Pleasant ISD will do major renovations at Mount Pleasant High School and safety and security upgrades will occur on all MPISD campuses.  For the record, there will be no athletic facilities included in this bond.  The effort is to renovate the academic buildings, add some new square footage to the high school footprint, and provide safer schools for all stakeholders. 

     I would like to give you a few facts about Mt. Pleasant High School.  We have been in the existing high school for 52 years, and we were in the old high school on Riddle Street for 42 years.  At the high school alone, we have experienced 25% growth over the past 20 years with no new footprint in our educational buildings.  When I came to MPHS 21 years ago, we had approximately 1140 students, and we started this school year with around 1540 students.  Our staff has grown as well and classroom/lab space is at a premium because of our growth.  We have over 700 students that eat in the cafeteria during each of two lunches, and the cafeteria was built for 500 people.  As a result, our students eat outside, or in the high school library, on a daily basis.     

     At Mt. Pleasant High School, we will expand our Career Tech facilities where approximately 93% of our students learn, participate, and compete each year.  The high school auditorium will receive a heavy renovation with new audio/visual equipment, lighting, reupholstered seating, electrical upgrades, etc.  A fine arts center will be added that will include an expansion of the band hall and an expansion for dance.  The high school cafeteria will be expanded and technology and furniture will be purchased.  We will fix some major drainage issues that cause the courtyard area to flood during heavy rains, and our parking lots will be reworked as well.  Renovations will also include an addition across the front of the high school that will include new classrooms, counselor’s offices, security offices, and administration offices.     

     It is a shame that in today’s world, we have to worry about school safety.  However, we all know how important it is to maintain a safe environment wherever we are in our world.  The school bond will address safety and security concerns on each of our campuses.  Included in these upgrades will be new cameras, access control measures, and upgraded entries to all campuses.  After the upgrades, it will take a little more effort to get into our schools, but this is necessary to create the safest environment possible for our students and staff. 

     A very important question is, “What is it going to cost?”  The MPISD school board granted a Local Optional Homestead Exemption (LOHE) in June of 2018.  This is a 20% exemption from the total appraised value on an individual’s home.  The exemption applies only to the homestead, but it is a large exemption.  It is actually a larger exemption for homeowners than the tax implications the bond will create.  This is not the same exemption as the one the state gives, which is $25,000, and a homeowner will continue to get that exemption as well.  Therefore, with the LOHE already granted, an individual homeowner will not see an increase in their taxes, unless their appraised value increases.  Business owners are not recipients of the LOHE on their businesses.  Therefore, the tax increases on businesses will be approximately 16%, depending on what the legislature does with school funding during the current session.  Our businesses are very important to our school district, and we want to be transparent about the costs associated with the bond. 

     We have set dates for community meetings to discuss the school bond.  We will meet at E.C. Brice Elementary on March 26 at 6:30 p.m., Frances Corprew Elementary on April 4 at 6:30 p.m., Annie Sims on April 18 at 6:30 p.m., and the MPHS Library on April 30 at 6:30 p.m.  We would appreciate your attendance and participation in these meetings.  There are some other important dates as well.  The last day to register to vote is April 4, early voting begins on April 22, and Election Day is May 4.  Please take the time to go and cast your vote.

Judd Marshall, Mount Pleasant ISD Superintendent of Schools