The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 3, 2012

Joplin School District bond issue passes

By Kelsey Ryan
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — The largest bond issue in Joplin’s history unofficially has passed by less than 1 percent, allowing the Joplin School District to afford to rebuild schools that were destroyed in the May 22 tornado.

“We’re excited, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Superintendent C.J. Huff moments after hearing the results of Tuesday’s bond issue. “I just want to thank everyone for the support... It was certainly a big win for the kids and certainly we’ll have the opportunity to follow through with our promises to get the job done.”

School bond issues have historically been close, Huff said, and this was no exception. The bond required a four sevenths, or 57.14 percent, majority to pass. In Jasper and Newton counties, 4,982 of 8,637 voters said yes, which was 57.68 percent-- less than a 1 percent difference.

Mackenzie Robinson, the PTO president for East Middle School and Eastmorland Elementary, was ecstatic about the win.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! We’re very excited,” Robinson said Tuesday night.

“I definitely thought it was going to be close,” Robinson said. “But I didn’t think it would be that close. But we’ll take it if it passed. It just takes that one vote. I’m just really proud of our community to come together. This is going to be good fo the future of Joplin and all of these kids. I’m proud to call Joplin home.”

The estimated rebuilding cost for all the schools and other associated projects is $185 million. Total estimated insurance, government funding and donations now stand at a total $123 million.

Some Joplin parents said they were happy about some of the upgrades that will be included in the bond issue, but worry about extravagant expenditures by the district now that the bond has passed.

“I did not go and vote because I was torn on the issue and I think they were asking for more than they need,” said Carrie Close, who has a first-grader that attends Emerson Elementary. “I think that they spend a lot of money on stuff that’s not necessary for a public school. But I’m pleased that there will be some upgrades like storm shelters added and some of the things were necessary.”

The school district’s current levy is $3.31 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means the owner of a $100,000 home pays about $630 in annual taxes to the district on his or her real property. Because the bond passed, the new levy will be $3.66, and the cost to that same homeowner will be about $695 annually — an increase of about $65.

If the bond had not passed, district officials said they would not be able to afford to rebuild Joplin High School and community storm shelters, but would have proceeded with East Middle School, an elementary that would share a campus with East and Irving Elementary, which would be relocated to a site donated by Mercy Health Systems.