NEWCASTLE — An early childhood education center and district auditorium are part of a $50 million bond issue voters in Newcastle School District will decide Dec. 8. The school board called the special election last week. The 13-year, series bond issue includes $49.495 million for improvement projects and $1 million for transportation needs. "We’re growing more and more each year,” said Newcastle Superintendent Robert Everett. The district’s elementary student population has doubled in the past decade with more than 850 elementary students this school year, he said.
Allocating the fundsThe early childhood education center would cost an estimated $16 million. The new building would house prekindergarten through first grade students. The center would be built near the district’s middle school, helping to alleviate overcrowding and traffic issues on the elementary campus, said Everett. A district auditorium and field house and wellness center are also in the bond proposal. The projects are estimated around $5 million each. "The auditorium will allow us to advance our arts, drama and music programs,” Everett said. The field house and wellness center would include a weight room and locker rooms for various district sports. Other bond projects include: a classroom and library addition at the high school; a new transportation building; improvements to the fourth- and fifth-grade building; artificial turf at the district’s football field and a track.
Future growthThese projects are needed for students now and to handle future growth, school board President Dawayne Smith said. "It’s all for the kids,” he said. "We want to provide them the best education we can and prepare them for the future the best we can.” If the bond issue passes, it would raise the district’s tax rate to around 37 mills, which is back to its 2008 level, officials said. The rate dropped to 31.6 mills this year because the district’s assessed evaluation went up. A mill is one-tenth of one cent.