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Several School Bond Proposals Approved Tuesday

A rendering of a new lunch room/commons area at Nixa Junior High as part of a bond proposal that was approved on Tuesday/Credit:

Voters throughout the Ozarks faced numerous school bond proposals Tuesday. KSMU’s Scott Harvey has this review.

In Nixa, voters approved a no-tax increase proposal that will allow the Nixa School District to issue $9.5 million in capital improvement projects. The money will be used for upgrades at Nixa Junior High and High School, which will both be equipped with FEMA safe rooms, bringing the total number of safe rooms district-wide to four by next year.

Zac Rantz, director of communications for the district, says officials look forward to making the district a safer place for students and the community.

“We just say thank you, and appreciate their support, and we’re just anxious to get the ball rolling on all the projects that they’ve approved, and look forward to seeing the progress come,” Rantz said.

Additional improvements include a new junior high commons area/lunch room, secure entrance, additional classroom space, and the remodeling of various classroom spaces, which officials say will reduce overcrowding at the school. These projects will finish the constructions started from the April 2012 bond issue.

Rantz says construction could begin as early as May, with a majority of work to be conducted at the junior high this summer.  

The Lebanon School District has received approval from voters to borrow $32.5 million for a new middle school on property recently purchased by the district, and will house sixth through eighth grade students. Superintendent Duane Widhalm says the need for the new building emerged from the issues caused by aging Lebanon Junior High and Hillcrest School.

“The safety and security features were obviously not there in those facilities that we would like to see in today’s schools. And then the overall ability to upgrade the classrooms to meet today’s technology needs and new science labs and all those things that go into a 21st century school,” Widhalm said.

The new middle school will include one main security entrance, surveillance cameras; and a FEMA safe room. Part of the junior high will be repurposed to house the district’s central office, while the alternative school will be relocated to Hillcrest.   

Widhalm says Tuesday’s yes votes confirm that Lebanon wants high quality education for all of its students. He expects crews to break ground on the new middle school by early spring, and for it to be ready for students by August 2016.

With Tuesday’s passage, the Lebanon School District debt service levy is estimated to increase from $0.47 to $0.84 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

The debt service levy will also increase for citizens in Carthage, following passage of an $18 million bond to construct a new intermediate center for grades four and five, plus renovations to convert the existing middle school to a junior high facility.

Reeds Spring voters approved a $16.3 million bond for a new middle school on recently purchased property, which the district says will support the district’s 21st century school learning initiative, including the implementation of a 1-to-1 student-to-tablet ratio. Additionally, renovations and improvements will be made to other district facilities. The debt service property tax levy will not increase.

Elsewhere throughout the region, voters in Crane approved a new $2 million school gymnasium bond; the Hurley School District won approval for a $1 million bond toward facility acquisition, Cassville voters approved a $4 million bond for maintenance and other improvements, a $2.5 million bond was approved in Aurora to complete security enhancements at the school district’s facilities, and Dadeville School District voters voted in favor of $1.5 million bond to improve campus facilities.

Voters in Fairview and Ava rejected bond proposals there of $2.5 million and $3.2 million, respectively.

Scott joined KSMU in November 2012. He had previously served five years as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station in Commerce, Texas. A graduate of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Scott enjoys producing human-interest stories, among other pieces that educate and engage the community. When not at work, he’s often taking part in outdoor activities, exploring new areas and restaurants, or staying up-to-date with the latest news and information. Scott was born and raised in Shenandoah, Iowa.