The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 23, 2012

Joplin School Board to seek extension of deadline to place bond issue on ballot

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Board of Education wants to wait a bit before placing a bond issue on the April 3 ballot, to see whether more funding might be found to offset the potential burden on taxpayers.

Today is the deadline for placing a bond issue on the spring ballot. But the board voted Monday night to seek a court order for an extension in both Jasper and Newton counties. That would give the board a couple more weeks, until Feb. 6.

School officials have estimated that after insurance settlements and other sources of revenue are counted, the district could be $62 million shy of the total needed to replace schools destroyed in the May 22 tornado and to upgrade other schools.

Paul Barr, the district’s financial adviser, said that between Monday and Feb. 6, the district may be notified of additional insurance money, money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for tornado safe rooms at the planned schools, or additional funds from the state.

“If we get funded for one of the requests that we have out, it would impact the amount we ask from patrons,” Barr said during the board meeting Monday night.

The district’s attorney, John Nicholas, said the Feb. 6 date would give clerks in the two counties time to get the ballots to the printer.

“This whole funding piece is very complicated,” said Superintendent C.J. Huff. “We’re trying to take advantage of as much federal and state funding as we can to offset costs to our patrons.”

Huff said the district may or may not have more information in two weeks.

“Worse case, we can go with a larger number, and if the reality changes we can back off,” Huff said. “Ultimately, we’ve got an obligation to get these schools rebuilt.”

Barr said flexibility must be built into the district’s bond plan.

Under the district’s current tax rate of $3.31 per $100 of assessed valuation, the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 pays property taxes of nearly $630 per year to the school district. The owner of a $20,000 car pays personal property taxes of nearly $220.

The board may meet again late this week or early next week to assess the status.

In related business, the board heard design presentations from Jim Stufflebeam with Sapp Design Associates, Springfield, on plans for the Irving-Emerson replacement school on the south end of the campus of the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center; and from Scott Barton with Hollis and Miller Architects, Kansas City, on plans for East Middle School and Duenweg-Duquesne elementary school on East 20th Street.

The board approved the designs and directed the architects to continue with their plans.

State competition

IT WAS ANNOUNCED during the board meeting that the Joplin High School Constitution Team won the state competition.

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