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Tax Levy and Bond Proposal Will be on Springfield's April 2nd Ballot

Image Courtesy of Springfield Public Schools
KSMU Archive
Image Courtesy of Springfield Public Schools

Springfield voters this April will decide on a couple of school-related propositions following last week’s unanimous approval by the School Board to place the items on the ballot. KSMU’s Shannon Bowers has more on a proposed 20-cent tax increase and a $71 million dollar bond.

If this funding request is passed, funds would benefit the early education level in the Springfield School District.

The $71.65 million “Classrooms for Kids” bond would go to constructing a new elementary school in southwest Springfield with a capacity of 450 students. This would relieve a full Sherwood Elementary school of roughly 250 students.

Springfield Public Schools reported that seven of their schools are operating at over 100 percent capacity.

If the bond is passed, Glendale High School plans on dramatically renovating their cafeteria and enhancing their library by forming a student center. They would also improve their technology, explains Glendale Principal Matt Peirce.

“Just like every other school in the district, we would be getting wireless technology structure upgrades. So what that means is every room in the building should be able to hit 30 to 35 wireless devices and work,” says Peirce.

The “Classroom for Kids” bond includes upgrades to the network bandwidth in all classrooms and to replace any computers that have been in use for six or more years.

Additionally, Freemont Elementary would receive nine classrooms and some renovations to existing rooms. Four additional classrooms would be added to Hickory Hills K-8 School.

Kickapoo High School hopes to use the bond money to renovate their current kitchen, auditorium, and east entrance.

According to the district, the $71.65 million bond will not result in higher taxes for citizens. But the current debt service levy of 51 cents will stand for an additional four years.

The “Teachers for Kids” proposal would include a 20-cent operating levy increase phased over two years. Steve Chodes is the chief financial officer for Springfield Public Schools.

“A ten cent increase on a home with an assessed value of $100,000 is $19 a year,’” said Chodes

He says that recently the school board commissioned a demographic study. The results were that, even on the low end, the district would be gaining 115 students per year, over the next ten years.

The 20 cent levy would be used to increase teachers’ pay and to hire more staff filling the new buildings and classrooms. It would also go to help fund the new technology the bond promises.

“We have not gone to the public since 2004 with a request increase for the levy. We have gone out of our way to avoid doing that but now in order just to maintain our current level of service we do have to go to the public,” said Chodes.

For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.

Election costs

Under state law, the political subdivision that compelled the election must pay the cost. The Greene County clerk estimates the cost of the April election at $110,000 to $120,000. If the school district is the only governmental entity on the ballot, it will pay the entire cost. Springfield school officials said they were already expecting to pay for the election because two seats on the seven-member governing board will be decided. Three candidates — Annie Busch, Gerry Lee and Matthew Simpson — will vie for those spots.

Bond issue

The proposed $71.65 million bond issue calls for the following projects to be funded: $19.25 million — Kickapoo High School. Renovate cafeteria, kitchen, auditorium and east entrance; enclose courtyard and complete upgrade to building mechanical system. $17.8 million — Construct a new, 450-student elementary school in southwest Springfield. This would absorb the 250 students who currently attend Sherwood Elementary and alleviate crowding in that part of the district. $16 million — Technology. Upgrade network bandwidth in all classrooms to accommodate expanded instructional use of Internet-connected devices in classrooms and replace computers that have been in use for six or more years. $13.5 million — Fremont Elementary. Add 45,000 square feet of space, including about nine classrooms, and renovate some existing areas of the school to address growth in north Springfield. $4 million — Glendale High School. Renovate cafeteria and enhance library. $1.1 million — Hickory Hills Elementary and Middle School. To accommodate growth, add four elementary classrooms