Muleshoe schools facelift up for vote

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Muleshoe residents will decide whether to fund a $25 million facelift for four schools in Saturday’s bond election.

If approved, the school district’s tax rate would increase 37.5 cents per $100 taxable value for the life of bond, or $375 per year for a home valued at $100,000, according to the Muleshoe Independent School District Web site.

Muleshoe has not held a maintenance tax election in almost 50 years, according to the Web site.

Taxpayers will vote on two propositions. One seeks to enact an updated state law, which gives schools the legal authority to ask for a bond election, and the other seeks a tax increase to pay for proposed renovations at the schools, Muleshoe Superintendent Gene Sheets said.

Stacy Conner, a member of Muleshoe Needs Action Campaign, said the group of 40 has lobbied since April in favor of the bond election.

“It is always easier and cheaper to put things off. We all do it, in our personal lives, in our financial lives. But this has reached a point where something has to be done,” said Conner, a Baptist preacher who has two children attending schools in the district.

The newest school in the district was built in 1963, according to Conner. Some of the school buildings are out of compliance with state safety codes, school officials said. And all four campuses are overcrowded, with portables serving as classrooms, officials said.

Sheets said the school district of approximately 1,500 students has grown in the last couple of years, partly because a pre-kindergarten program was added at Dillman Elementary School and partly because the population of Muleshoe’s school district has grown with the influx of dairies to the area.

He said the school district has grown by 66 students in the last four years.
The state may pay for 60 percent of the renovations through a special program available this year, Sheets said.

Here is a glance at the renovation proposals:

• First priority: Add classrooms and a cafeteria at Dillman Elementary.

The school has a capacity to serve 250 students, but currently serves 480, Sheets said. Lunches are served on a rotational basis and pre-kindergarten classes are conducted in rented portables located on the campus, Sheets said. Renovations would alleviate overcrowding.

Estimated cost: $4 million

• Second priority: Renovation of the Muleshoe High School.

Portions of the existing high school, such as the auditorium, would be spared, but the majority of the building would be rebuilt, Sheets said.

Estimated cost: $15 million

• Third priority: Renovation of the Watson Junior High School

A new entrance would be built for the school to eliminate overcrowding at the existing parking lot and entrance, Sheets said.

Estimated cost: $1 million

• Fourth priority: Renovation of the DeShazo Elementary School

Five to six classrooms would be added to alleviate overcrowding, Sheets said.

Estimated cost: $1 million

• Fifth priority: Funds for future repairs and renovations of aging facilities at Watson, DeShazo, and Dillman.

Air conditioning and heating units, electrical wiring, and other systems would be upgraded.

Estimated cost: $4 million

On the Web