Dear Citizens of Jackson,
Jackson Public Schools (JPS) is the largest urban school district in the state of Mississippi, serving nearly 26,000 students and representing more than 80 percent of school-aged children in the state’s capital. There are seven high schools, 12 middle schools, 33 elementary schools, and two special schools comprising the District’s 54 school sites.
Approximately 75 percent of existing schools in the Jackson Public School District are between 50 and 100 years old. Most often, parts cannot be ordered to repair or replace outdated equipment in many school restrooms.
The heating ventilation and air conditioning systems at Callaway and Forest Hill High Schools are beyond repair and could fail at any moment.
A wing of Bailey APAC Middle School has been closed. This wing has been deemed too dangerous to be occupied due to major foundation issues resulting in concrete and wall separation and exposed pipes.
Several middle and high schools are without adequate science labs for learning and need upgrades to their libraries.
Several schools are not in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires public schools to provide children with disabilities an equal opportunity for an education as those who are not disabled.
Newell Field, a complex used for athletic events for Jackson students, has been closed indefinitely due to the collapse of bleachers.
These are just a few of the major challenges facing the Jackson Public School District. We must address these challenges and many others that have been cited by the Mississippi Department of Education in an audit.
On August 7, by voting for the proposed $65 million bond referendum, Jackson residents will help us address the priority needs existing at all schools. In April 2018, JPS paid off some existing debt and now we have the opportunity to reissue the debt to secure these additional funds. Reissuing the same amount for this bond will not cause a tax increase to homeowners.
It is important to note that the Board of Trustees is committed to transparency and accountability. To ensure that funds generated from the 2018 bond are managed and spent properly, and that the projects are completed, the Board of Trustees and our Leadership Team will:
• follow state law as it relates to awarding bids to vendors who are qualified to do the projects;
• create a committee composed of District staff and citizens from each Ward in the City of Jackson to provide oversight on the spending and execution of the bond projects for each school; and
• hold District staff accountable for providing monthly reports on the progress of projects. These reports will be presented at Board meetings and posted on the JPS website.
The passage of this bond on August 7 will enable the District to improve the structural integrity of our buildings, provide upgraded bathrooms, ensure clean water for students and staff, and make our school buildings more accessible to all of our students, families and staff. Funds from this bond will create more productive learning environments for all of our students, and passage of the bond will demonstrate to our students that the adults in Jackson are serious about providing the high-quality education they need to compete globally in the 21st Century. The City of Jackson and the surrounding workforce also will benefit from the success of our JPS students.
On August 7, we have the chance to give our students hope for a brighter future for themselves, our city, and our state. We on the JPS Board of Trustees respectfully ask the citizens of Jackson to VOTE YES in support of JPS in the Bond Referendum.
Dr. Jeanne Middleton Hairston, President
Jackson Public School District Board of Trustees