Bishop Consolidated Independent School District voters narrowly approved a $24 million bond last week for district-wide improvements, including a new high school and security controls at each campus.

The bond was supported by 54.41 percent of school district voters, with 290 votes in favor of the bond, and 243 votes against it.

Turnout in the Bishop school district was 7.84 percent. Overall voter turnout in Nueces County was 6.47 percent, and voter turnout statewide was 8.65 percent.

The Bishop school board voted in August to call for the $24 million bond after a facility committee studied the district's needs and unanimously recommended a bond election to address current conditions.

The ballot asked school district voters to approve "The issuance of $24 million of bonds to construct, acquire and equip school buildings and purchase necessary sites therefore, and levying the tax in payment thereof."

Bishop CISD superintendent Christina Gutierrez said the $24 million bond will be utilized to build a new, 105,000-square-foot high school with two gymnasiums and a band hall.

She said once a new high school is built, the current high school would become the district's junior high school and the current junior high school would be demolished.

Gutierrez said the current high school cannot meet the educational needs of the high school students, but that it does have the infrastructure needed for the junior high level.

The current Bishop High School was built in 1954, with the most recent renovations occurring in 1995 after a $9.4 million bond passed in 1994. The 1995 bond is projected to be paid off in eight years and the high school currently has about 350 students.

The current Luehrs Junior High School was built in 1945 and the current high school gymnasium was built in 1949, with the most recent renovations at both occurring in 1995.

Gutierrez said the bond will also be utilized to renovate the football stadium, with new home side bleachers and an eight-lane track. The stadium cannot host track meets currently because there are not enough lanes, she said.

Funds will also be used to demolish the existing tennis courts and replace them with six new courts, and for renovations and additions to the agricultural barn, she said.

Gutierrez said funds will also be used to add security controls at each campus, including cameras and door sensors on exterior doors, and to build a covered activity area at Bishop Primary School, which was built in 1948 and most recently renovated in 1995.

The Bishop school board said only $10 million of the $24 million of bonds will be sold this year and the remaining $14 million will be sold next year.

Therefore, the bonds are projected to increase the school district's debt service tax rate about 13 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in 2008-09, and 20 cents more in 2009-10.

With the issuance of the bonds, the district's total tax rate is projected go from its current rate of $1.19 per $100 of assessed valuation to $1.32 in 2008-09, and $1.52 in 2009-10.

Therefore, the owner of a $50,000 home would pay $760 in local school property taxes for the 2009-10 school year, since the bond was approved.

Homeowners over 65 will not see a tax increase since their school taxes are frozen, unless significant improvements are made to the property.