Hattiesburg residents voted to approve a bond renewal for the Hattiesburg Public School District, which is set to translate into millions of dollars for much needed improvements within the district. Voters in all five wards headed to the polls Tuesday to vote in a special election to approve or reject the bond renewal.
With all five wards reporting, unofficial results show 94.01 percent of voters approved the bond renewal for the school district.
#BREAKING: “YES” for Hattiesburg Public Schools.— Melissa Egan (@_MelissaEgan) May 23, 2018
With all wards reporting, (unofficial) results show 93.97% approval FOR the @HPSD bond renewal. Still will need to put in absentees.
Heading to talk to @HpsdSup & Mayor Barker now. @wdam pic.twitter.com/doY2aUHECS
Absentee ballots will be counted tonight with plans for the results to be certified by tomorrow afternoon.
"It says that we care about our students and we care about our future," said Superintendent Robert Williams. "We know so goes Hattiesburg Public School District, so goes City of Hattiesburg."
Plans for the potential funding includes $7 million to Hattiesburg High School for a "significant investment" toward safety and security with technology on campus, as well as classroom upgrades. $4 million would go to N.R. Burger Middle School to add classrooms, with additional funding used to upgrade classrooms at all elementary schools.
The referendum approved by the Hattiesburg Public School District Board of Trustees does not raise taxes for residents. It only renews an existing tax.
Earlier this month, the Hattiesburg City Council showed its support for the renewal by unanimously approving a resolution to endorse the referendum.
The bond renewal needed only 60 percent approval from voters.
"We've always said that Hattiesburg is only going to go as far as our public schools where take it and tonight our folks decided they wanted to go further than they can possible imagine," said Mayor Toby Barker. "I'm so proud of our people for realizing the value that our schools bring and look forward to the future."
Unofficial results, per ward:
Of 27,421 reported registered voters in Hattiesburg, 2,663 votes were cast in Tuesday's special election. That is just under 10 percent of registered voters, however not all registered were allowed to vote in the election, just those in the public school district.