By Roger McKinney
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
Voters on Tuesday approved the Baxter Springs School District’s $8 million bond issue by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent.
The final but unofficial vote count was 570 “yes” and 337 “no.”
A simple majority vote was required for approval.
“It’s a great day for kids in Baxter Springs and for the community,” said Superintendent Dennis Burke. He said after watching the results of the Joplin (Mo.) School District’s bond issue in April, he was expecting a much closer vote.
The bond issue will finance a new, independent wing for seventh- and eighth-graders at Baxter Springs High School. It will pay to build an addition at Central Elementary School for sixth-graders. The school now contains students in grades three through five.
It would eliminate the use of Baxter Springs Middle School as a school building. The 1918 building currently includes students in grades six through eight.
In response to a Globe request for how she voted, businesswoman Doris Siratt said she voted “yes,” citing the age of the middle school building as the main reason.
“I believe the school is old enough now, it should be replaced,” she said. “I just feel it’s time.”
An addition of two kindergarten classrooms at Lincoln Elementary School will serve as storm shelters. A dining room addition at Central School will be used as a safe room during storms. Part of the new addition at the high school also will be a safe room.
The storm-safe rooms are a primary reason stay-at-home mom Kamstet Brainard, 28, voted for the bond issue.
“It’s a terrific idea,” she said after casting her ballot. “Due to the tornado in Joplin, it’s a safe route to go here, also.”
Burke said he thought the safety factor was a big issue with many voters. He said the board also tried to consider things about previous bond issues that residents said they liked, or didn’t like about the proposals.
The bond issue brings with it a property-tax increase of 9 mills, to 51 mills. The owner of a home in the school district with a market value of $100,000 now pays annual property taxes to the school district of $437 under the current tax rate. It now will increase by $103.50 to $540.50.
Burke said construction on the projects could begin in January 2013, with completion expected in January 2014, in time for the second semester of the 2013-14 school year.
A $14 million Baxter Springs school bond issue proposal in 2007 failed by 10 votes