Voters approve $16 million school bond issue

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School teacher Keith Ingram congratulates Superintendent Terry Myers after the school bond passed Tuesday in the Curry County Clerk’s office.

Liliana Castillo

Sixty-three percent of voters approved Clovis Municipal Schools’ $16 million bond proposal Tuesday — 1,561 votes for and 926 against.

Fourteen percent of 18,059 voters eligible cast ballots in the election.

The bond will pay for upgrades to buildings and technology districtwide, the district’s 20 percent match of a proposed new middle school, and a new building for Lockwood Elementary School, totaling $73 million in construction with the state’s 80 percent match on several projects.

“What a great vote of confidence for the children in our district,” CMS Superintendent Terry Myers said. “Now that the issue is over and settled, I hope we all pull back together to support the children so they can receive the maximum benefit.”

The bond election met opposition by residents who said a new middle school was an unnecessary expense to the district in trying economic times.

High Plains Patriots, a Taxed Enough Already (TEA) group, urged residents to be educated before making a decision.

“It was a great success in respect of the turnout,” TEA spokesman Tim Ashley said. “We didn’t take a side on the issue, we just wanted people to be educated. With the turnout, I believe people did just that.”

Ashley said he felt residents wished the middle school and renovations would have been split onto two questions, leaving voters feeling the need to vote for the bond to give schools the money needed for necessary renovations.

Voter Emma Cooley said she voted against the measure because she didn’t believe the district is spending its money well.

“We passed $12 million two years ago. Where’s the money going?” she said.

Cooley said she fully supports the renovations and a new building for Lockwood.

“My children went to Lockwood 38 years ago and it had problems,” Cooley said. “But they added things onto the question that I wasn’t sure about.”

Voter Winnie Moore voted for it, she said, in the interest of the children.

“I think it’s for the betterment of the school children,” she said. “It’s just a plus for Clovis.”

Historically, 14 percent voter turnout is high for school bond elections, according to County Clerk Coni Jo Lyman.

The 2008 school bond election drew a 9 percent in turnout.

Myers attributed the increase to higher awareness due to the economy and the controversy that surrounded the issue.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley said construction for renovations and the new schools are in design and construction will be ongoing over the next three years.

The new Lockwood is expected to be completed January 2013 and the middle school should be complete May 2013.