By Deseray McKinzy

Cleveland County School District hosted their first community meeting on Wednesday to promote the proposed 5mil tax increase that questioned the need for what they described as an elaborate basketball arena.

More than two dozen people gathered at the New Edinburg Community Center to listen to a presentation from Superintendent Craig Dupuy about the details of the proposed millage increase. Three school board members, President Harrell Wilson, Stan Sadler, and Amber Offutt were also in attendance.

According to media sources, The school district is asking for the millage increase to fund an $8.5 million bond issue that will fund five construction projects at the Rison campus: a new gym/arena, renovate the interior of Rison Elementary, expand the seating capacity at the Rison School cafeteria, build an athletic track and construct a bus maintenance facility at the bus yard at Rison. Dupuy said the bond issue would be paid out over 30 years.

During the meeting, many criticized the size and need of the proposed 1,500-seat basketball arena that has an estimated price tag of $6 million.

Early voting on the measure will be held weekdays from Tuesday, May 11, to Monday, May 17. All polling sites within the Cleveland County School District will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, May 18.

The second community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. this Thursday, April 29, at the Kingsland School auditorium.