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franklin county times

#2: Meridian school bond issue fails… twice

By Staff
Jan. 1, 2001
With an emphatic "No," Meridian voters turned out twice this year to down a $33.5 million bond issue for Meridian Public Schools.
MPS officials said the bond was vital to a five-year strategic plan for improving schools. The money would have been used to build two new middle schools and a ninth-grade facility, and to make major improvements at other campuses.
City and county leaders like Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith and Lauderdale County District 2 Supervisor Jimmie Smith teamed with local businessmen and other supporters to help MPS officials push the bond issue.
When the first bond failed narrowly on Feb. 29, Smith and local businessman Jim McGinnis formed an organization called Citizens for Public Schools to help launch a second referendum in May.
They hired Carothers Construction, a reputable firm responsible for building many schools in the region, to help give voters details they said were lacking before the first vote. Supporters collected tax information and held a series of town meetings at Meridian schools.
Residents like Bill McBride and Jeff Buckley formed their own organization, the Committee for Concerned Taxpayers of Meridian, to rally against the second bond issue because they were against higher taxes, questioned officials' ability to manage school funds and were unhappy that the Meridian Separate School District had no representation on the MPS school board.
On May 16, the bond referendum failed again 45.5 percent to 54.5 percent, and well short of the required 60-percent supermajority.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.