The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 6, 2014

FEMA projects, bond issue, school officer discussed by Neosho School Board

NEOSHO, Mo. — Information about Federal Emergency Management Agency construction projects, the April bond issue election and plans to return a police officer to schools all were discussed Wednesday night during an informal session of the Neosho Board of Education.

There also was talk about hiring a grant writer, said Superintendent Dan Decker.

Decker said Branco Enterprises Inc., Neosho, had the low bid on all three FEMA projects. He said the low bid was over budget estimates. The board will vote on the contractor at the Monday, March 17, meeting.

The cost estimates of the safe room projects totaled nearly $8.5 million, but the bids were nearly 4 percent over that, at $8.8 million.

The district plans a two-story, 18-classroom addition at the front of Neosho High School that also would function as a safe room. The estimated cost was $5.4 million, but the bid was just under $5.5 million

A practice gymnasium and stage at South Elementary School would double as a safe room. That cost estimate was nearly $1.8 million, with the bid coming in at $1.9 million.

A $1.3 million classroom addition is planned at Carver Elementary School, but the bid was for $1.5 million.

FEMA will pay a portion of the cost, but the breakout wasn’t immediately available on Wednesday.

Tim Crawley, district operations manager, said the district will apply to FEMA to fund costs that are higher than the estimates. He said the number of schools adding safe rooms has increased the costs contractors are charging.

“I think it’s going to be cost-neutral for us,” Crawley said.

The district plans to pay the local share from the district budget over three years.

Decker said construction may start in late April, or it may start after school dismisses in May.

The superintendent said he told the board he had met with more community groups about the $24 million bond issue on the April 8 ballot to build a new junior high school. He said town hall-style meetings also were being planed.

“We’re getting into the home stretch,” Decker said. “We do have plans for a phone bank to remind people to vote.”

Plans call for a 100,000- to 115,000-square-foot junior high school to house seventh- and eighth-graders. If approved, it would be built adjacent to Carver Elementary School, at Kodiak Road and Maple Street.

The bond issue would be financed with a 24-cent tax hike, increasing the district’s debt-service levy to 60 cents.

The owner of a house with an appraised value of $100,000 would pay property taxes to the school district of $636.50 per year under the total district levy of $3.35 per $100 of assessed valuation. That’s a $45.60 increase from the current levy of $3.11 That’s a nearly 8 percent increase.

Decker told the board he will meet with officials at the Newton County Sheriff’s Department about the possibility of forming an agreement to provide an officer in the schools. The city recently ended its contract to provide a police officer in schools, citing a lack of cooperation by school officials.

Decker said he also has been contacted by private security companies.

The board directed Decker to prepare a job description for a district grant writer, a position that may be approved on March 17. He said someone who plans to apply for the job brought up the idea with him, but the job opening would be publicized, if the board approves it.

“The board agrees that there’s a need,” Decker said. “As busy as administrators are, as teachers are, there’s no time to seek out these grants. The grant applications also can take a lot of time.”

Bus proposal

The board at its March 17 meeting will consider a three-year lease-purchase agreement on 18 propane-fueled school buses. “That will allow us time to determine if there are cost savings,” Superintendent Dan Decker said.


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