The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 20, 2014

Carthage School Board approves $18 million bond proposal

CARTHAGE, Mo. — One school building would be constructed and another renovated if voters in the Carthage School District approve a bond issue being proposed by the Board of Education.

The panel on Monday unanimously voted to submit to district residents in the April 8 election a proposed $18 million bond issue that would finance construction of a new Intermediate Center for fourth- and fifth-grade students on district-owned property near Steadley Elementary School.

The plan, which does not call for an increase in the district’s current tax rate, also envisions the existing middle school being renovated for use as a junior high school, and the current junior high becoming a sixth-grade center. The district’s elementary schools then would accommodate students through the third grade, and high school attendance would remain the same.

Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said the building plan is an outgrowth of recommendations from a Carthage 2020 committee that several years ago worked on a series of recommendations for projects in the district. He said the goal is to prepare the district for growth expected in the middle school and junior high grades based on higher student numbers seen now in the lower grades.

“Kindergarten, first, second and third grades are our largest classes, and unless we do something, we’re not going to have the space we need to accommodate that growth,” he said.

Henningsen noted that the advisory group had urged the district to find innovative ways to finance its projects. He said federal and state grants had paid for most of the cost of the new Carthage Technical Center building and for a new early childhood center currently under construction. In the meantime, he said, the district has added classroom trailers at Mark Twain Elementary School, has converted space at Fairview Elementary for additional classrooms, and is renting space from Fairview Christian Church.

“We’re using all the space we have,” he said.

Board members were told several months ago that the district could finance up to $18 million in school improvements by extending its debt-service levy at its current rate. The district’s total tax rate, at $3.58 per $100 assessed valuation, has remained the same for a number of years. It includes a debt-service levy of 83 cents. The full levy, at $3.58, costs the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 about $680 per year in school taxes.

The new and renovated buildings would include tornado safe rooms, the superintendent said. After meeting needs for more classroom space, construction of safe rooms was a top priority among patrons who were surveyed about what should be financed by a bond issue.

In other business Monday, the board heard reports on the district’s English language learner program and reviewed proposed calendars for the 2014-15 school year.

Snow days

SCHOOL CLOSINGS because of snow have added seven days to this year’s school calendar. Currently, May 29 is scheduled as the last day of school this term. Graduation ceremonies originally set for May 13 have been moved to May 20.

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