Information regarding WOCCISD’s Bond Election

Published 2:39 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

(Editor’s note: Dr. Harris had plans to run this for his next editorial, which normally runs in the Weekend editions. The Orange Leader believes this information is important for voters to make an informed decision and waiting until Harris’ next scheduled column would be too late as so many are participating in early voting.)

By Dr. Rickie R. Harris

In my last two columns, I shared information with you regarding West Orange –Cove’s Nov. 6 bond election. To summarize again, a Citizens Advisory Committee reviewed our facilities; then, an outside agency conducted a community survey regarding building improvements. After reviewing the results, the committee recommended an election and possible bond projects to our Board of Trustees. In August, the School Board called an election.

The bond election is for a total of $25.75 million with a potential .08 tax increase per $100 valuation after the state homestead exemption of $25,000 and a local 20 percent homestead exemption have been deducted from the appraised value of the home. Taxpayers age 65 and older who have filed the appropriate tax exemption will not see an increase in taxes as their taxes are frozen.

My previous columns shared details regarding some of the bond projects. They include:

  • $1.9 million in district-wide technology updates;
  • $2.2 million in classroom furniture updates in kindergarten through grade 12;
  • $800,000 for security and safety;
  • $2.1 million for infrastructure updates (HVAC, roof, fencing, bleachers, more);
  • $300,000 for updates in our fine arts programs;
  • $2.1 million for a transportation facility; and
  • $11.3 million for an event center.

The bond also includes three projects for athletic facilities at West Orange-Stark High School.

At our softball field, the project includes replacing the scoreboard, adding bleacher canopies, and installing artificial turf at a projected cost of $750,000.

At our baseball field, we propose to also replace the scoreboard, refurbish bleachers, add a ramp for accessibility, and add artificial turf. We have planned a budget of $1.4 million for this project.

We will also make improvements at the football field. This includes installing stadium seating on the home side, building a new ADA accessible press box, creating a concrete drive into the visitor parking area (which would also support a new Event Center, if approved through the bond), and also adding artificial turf to this field. The turf would benefit not only our athletic programs, but also our band. The High School band was unable to host a Battle of the Band event earlier this year due to extremely poor field conditions. The cost of updates at the football field is $2.9 million.

Our goal in sharing this information is so that members of our community can make an informed decision in this election.

I will present bond information tonight at 6:30 p.m. at a meeting at Mt. Olive Baptist Church located at 106 W. Park Avenue in Orange. The public is welcome to attend. For those unable to attend, the presentation is posted to our website in English and Spanish. It is viewable at (Bond information is the first item posted under the “Community” menu).  Our website, additionally, includes Frequently Asked Questions about the bond and responses to bond questions from our community.

Early voting is currently going on through Nov. 2. I encourage all of our community stakeholders to voice their opinion.

We believe in John Maxwell’s philosophy that “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” Go Mustangs!


Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange-Cove CISD