Guntersville Schools Superintendent meets with Mayor to discuss plans for new high school

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The Guntersville City School district remains on a mission to make the dream of a new high school a reality after residents voted down a property tax increase that would have paid for the $43 million school.

1,366 voters took to the polls in a special bond election on May 11, 2021. Almost 60% of them voted “no” to a property tax increase to pay for a new high school on the current school’s site.

“It’s a really unorthodox and unusual shape and way the structure and architecture was designed and in reality is it really doesn’t promote what we try to look at as what our best instructional practices for our students. Our faculty and staff are doing awesome job working with that they’ve got but we hope in the coming years to provide better facilities and better opportunities for them,” says newly-appointed Guntersville City Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett.

Two weeks later and News 19 is learning more about the efforts of the nonprofit group ‘Take Back Our Republic’ (TBOR) to educate voters.

“The biggest thing that I found and the other groups found, is when we called people and went door-to-door people had no idea what we were even talking about,” says TBOR event coordinator Ashley Sellers.

She tells News 19 they wanted the increase to fail because the estimated cost of construction was outdated due to COVID-10-caused inflated material prices and because they also felt that $43 million price tag was excessive for a town of 8,000 people.

“Even if the tax referendum had passed, it wouldn’t have been enough to build the school,” says Sellers. “It would have been the 16th tax increase in 10 years in the city of Guntersville and the fourth property tax increase in that same 10-year-period, so that’s just insane.”

Barnett tells News 19 he is still trying to find ways to make their dream come to fruition.

He says he with Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar recently to discuss their next steps.

“While there wasn’t anything certain that came out of the meeting that this is what we’re going to do, what did come out of the meeting was a commitment from both parties, from the mayor and her office, and myself and the Board of Education to work together to try and streamline some things, find some sources of funding and do whatever it takes to make sure this new facility is

The Guntersville City School district remains on a mission to make the dream of a new high school a reality after residents voted down a property tax increase that would have paid for the $43 million school.

1,366 voters took to the polls in a special bond election on May 11, 2021. Almost 60% of them voted “no” to a property tax increase to pay for a new high school on the current school’s site.

“It’s a really unorthodox and unusual shape and way the structure and architecture was designed and in reality is it really doesn’t promote what we try to look at as what our best instructional practices for our students. our faculty and staff are doing awesome job working with that they’ve got but we hope in the coming years to provide better facilities and better opportunities for them,” says newly-appointed Guntersville City Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett.

Two weeks later and News 19 is learning more about the efforts of the nonprofit group ‘Take Back Our Republic’ (TBOR) to educate voters.

“The biggest thing we found is that people had no idea about it,” says TBOR event coordinator Ashley Sellers.

She tells News 19 they wanted the increase to fail because the estimated cost of construction was outdated due to COVID-10-caused inflated material prices and because they also felt that $43 million price tag was excessive for a town of 8,000 people.

“Even if it had passed, it wouldn’t have been enough to build the school,” says Sellers. “It would have been the 16th tax increase in 10 years in Guntersville and fourth property tax increase in the same 10-year-period. That’s just insane.”

Barnett tells News 19 he is still trying to find ways to make their dream come to fruition.

He says he met with Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar recently to discuss their next steps.

“While there wasn’t anything certain that came out of the meeting that this is what we’re going to do, what did come out of the meeting was a commitment from both parties, the mayor and her office, and myself and the Board of Education to work together to try and streamline some things, find some sources of funding and do whatever it takes for this new facility to be realized for the students of Guntersville,” explains Barnett.

He says there is not a solid plan yet and that they may need to take advantage of multiple options.

No matter what, though, Barnett says he looks forward to a bright future for his new students.

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