Joplin, your hat trick is at hand.
In 2007, Joplin School District voters approved a $57.3 million bond issue that resulted in two new middle schools — East and South — and the renovation and expansion of North. It was only a decade ago that those buildings came online.
In 2012, voters approved a $62 million bond issue that, when combined with insurance and other money, resulted in a new high school, a new East Middle School, and two new elementary schools, Irving and Soaring Heights, all to replace buildings lost in the 2011 tornado. Some of those schools are only a few years old.
Now in 2020, voters have a chance to approve a $25 million bond issue that could result in a third new elementary school, to replace two buildings that have outlived their usefulness — West Central and Columbia — as well as an addition at Kelsey Norman that would finally rid the Joplin School District of its last modular units.
Time is working both with us and against us on this.
With us: This bond issue, which will be on the April 7 ballot, could be passed without raising the district's debt service levy — 91 cents per $100 assessed valuation, where it has been for seven years. It does, however, extend the length of that rate.
Against us: Because of structural problems at Columbia, engineers indicated the district might not be able keep students and staff in the building for more than two additional years. A "no" vote would mean more delays in finding a home for the Columbia students.
Think about where Joplin was in the spring of 2007. Then think about where it could be 15 years later, in 2022, with a new elementary school atop Dover Hill.
That's a dramatic transformation.
A "yes" vote would mean that most Joplin school buildings will have been modernized, enlarged and made safer.
We think it is the right path forward.
This editorial has been updated.