By Ida Brown
In the spirit of the ancient African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," the Meridian community took a major step on March 27 to secure a better educational future for local youth: the passage of a proposed $19.5 million bond for the Meridian Public School District.
The outcome not only was overwhelmingly approved – passing by more than 71 percent – but also historical. Two previous bond issues – the last estimated at $40 million – had failed.
"This marks the first time in more than 20 years that the community has invested in substantially improving where our children go to school, what they learn and how they are taught,” Superintendent Sylvia Autry commented the day after the school district's victory.
The bond request was the result of an 18-month study of the district’s future needs by the Framing the Future taskforces — composed of nearly 60 parents, teachers, principals and a diverse cross-section of citizens. Specific recommendations for capital improvements to Meridian’s public schools are designed to ensure that all students meet the most rigorous standards in an excellent learning environment.
Atlanta-based consultant Robert Kronley of Kronley & Associates has been a key player in evaluating the district and fostering potential new directions.
“The concept is that a community is only as good as its education system,” said MPSD Board President Wile said. “This bond not only will improve our education system, but also better prepare graduates to become more productive and better citizens.”
Scheduled to be repaid over a 20-year period, the $19.5 million bond will be used for four major areas: air conditioning for all cafeterias in all schools; renovating schools; implementing small learning communities at Meridian High School; and a new, separate, state-of-the art school for the ninth grade on the high school campus that will provide more opportunity for effective and expanded learning.
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