HALLSVILLE — Just before the end of the day on Monday, early voting results at the Harrison County Elections Office showed a higher percentage of early voting turnout for the Hallsville ISD bond election than the constitutional election.

Harrison County Elections Administrator Donald Robinette said on Monday that just before 5 p.m., the early voting results for the Hallsville ISD bond election to date showed a 5 percent voter turnout, about 737 of the 14,281 registered voters in the Hallsville ISD.

That’s a bigger percentage of early voters than compared to the county’s constitutional election turnout so far, which has drawn in about 3 percent, or 1,346 voters of the 44,391 registered in the county.

“Looking at the past voting history, usually people don’t turn out that well for constitutional elections,” Robinette said on Monday. “Also, our polls never close early.”

With early voting ending on Friday and election day set for Nov. 5, voters have just five more days to cast their ballots.

Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum has been talking about the district’s $55 million bond election at every available opportunity lately, trying to get voters to realize the need for expansion at the growing district.

“Voters will see two propositions for Hallsville ISD on the ballot,” Collum said in a statement last week on the bond. “Proposition A is for the issuance of $55 million for the proposed projects: a new west elementary school, a new performing arts center, junior high safety upgrades and renovations, and district-wide improvements. Proposition B is for $3 million to refund and replace maintenance tax debt with interest and sinking tax debt.”

The district is currently in a unique financial position that voters and tax payers will not only not see a tax increase due to approving the bond election, but will instead see a tax decrease.

Thanks to an influx of state funding to school districts as part of the recently passed Texas House Bill 3, Hallsville ISD tax payers will see a $0.07 decrease per $100 home valuation in their tax rate, whether the bond passes on Nov. 5 or not.

The district will see its maintenance and operations tax rate reduced from $1.04 to $0.97. The district’s interest and sinking (debt) tax rate will remain steady at $0.33, making a total $1.30 tax rate, down from $1.37 last year, per $100 of home value

The district’s trustees voted unanimously in August to call the two bond elections, citing a need for a new elementary school due to rapid growth at the district.

“Over the past 10 years, Hallsville ISD has seen a significant increase in student enrollment in the district,” Collum said. “Each year, the district has grown by an average of 100 students, with more expected as the surrounding area continues to grow. The new west elementary school would be built to accommodate 750 students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grades.”

The total bond amount would not exceed $55 million, and includes about $29.7 million for a new “West” elementary school campus on land the district already owns near Page Road and Loop 281 in the Longview city limits but Hallsville ISD district.

The bond also includes about $13.8 million for a new 1,000 seat high school auditorium that was originally included on the plans of the district’s 2007 bond that constructed the new Hallsville High School but was later scrapped due to a lack of money remaining. The district’s campuses currently use the auditorium at Hallsville Junior High School.

Next is about $2 million for security updates and aesthetic renovations at Hallsville Junior High School. Security updates would include new doors on the campus building, a two-tiered secure entry vestibule similar to other campuses and cameras throughout the building. Aesthetic updates would include paint, carpet and other restorations.

Next up is about $9.4 million allocated for maintenance and transportation upgrades and needs, which includes five new school buses, parking lot repairs at East Elementary School and Hallsville Junior High School, roof repairs at East Elementary School, Hallsville Junior High School, the football field house and concession stands and facility upgrades at East Elementary and HVAC repairs. The $9.4 million also includes new band equipment that Collum said the district has not been able to afford to make room for in the annual budget. 

Polling locations are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday. There are extended voting hours on Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters must vote at their designated precinct location on Nov. 5 election day, but may vote at any of the early voting locations listed below:

Harrison County Elections Office, 415 Burleson Street, Marshall

Harleton Community Center, 4335 Community Street, Harleton

Woodland Hills Baptist Church, 2105 E. Loop 291, Longview

Waskom Courthouse, 450 W. Texas Avenue, Waskom

Hallsville Volunteer Fire Department ESD #5, 102 N. Central Street, Hallsville

For more information about the Hallsville ISD bond, visit its website at www.HallsvilleISDbond.com.