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Bond proposal would replace elementary school, change busing for Excelsior Springs

Posted at 11:22 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 12:22:37-05

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — April may feel like a long time away, but many people are already focused on city and school district elections.

In the Excelsior Springs School District, school leaders are focused on Proposition T, which would state on the ballot:

Shall Excelsior Springs. School District #40 issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of $23,500,000 for the purpose of constructing, improving, repairing, renovating, furnishing and equipping school facilities, including constructing a new Elementary School and renovating Elkhorn Elementary School, ES Middle School, ES High School and other District facilities for early childhood education, to be completed as Phase 1 of the District’s Long-Range Facility Plan? If this question is approved, the District’s debt service property tax levy is estimated to remain unchanged at $1.1453 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.

It's a no-tax rate increase, where residents would pay the same taxes they currently are.

If passed, there will be upgrades to school buildings, including a new Westview Elementary School.

"It's about a mile from where the current one resides," Deputy Superintendent Jaret Tomlinson said. "The school district owns some property where we can build it on."

There will also be a number of upgrades to other schools, including updates to Elkhorn Elementary School and the relocation of the Early Childhood Center.

District leaders said through the upgrades, it shows the importance of public education in communities like Excelsior Springs.

"Obviously we're the largest employer in town, we're the largest food service provider in town, we're the largest transportation company in town, and that's often true in many communities in the state of Missouri," Tomlinson said. "So I think it's important for people to understand their community is only as good as their local school district. And these are the kids that are going to be growing up and eventually owning homes here, owning businesses here in the community and it's important we give those kids the best opportunities."

In the future, they plan to build a new Lewis Elementary School.

Tomlinson said the reason the district is starting with Westview is because of the school's current condition.

"What we do is bring in third party companies that we contract with. So we have architects and they come and evaluate each of our buildings and they determine which one's in the best shape, which one needs the most work," Tomlinson said. "And they came back and said that half of Westview was the worst condition than any building in our school district and needed the most immediate attention. So that's where we've focused most of our time immediately."

If the school bond issue does pass, the school board stated there will be busing for all elementary students in pre-K through fifth grade.

"This would give us the opportunity to to allocate some money that we're currently spending on maintenance for our building and reallocate that for transportation. So all pre-K through five students can receive busing regardless of what elementary school they attend," Tomlinson said.

Right now, it is just one elementary school that has busing because the state only reimburses transportation for students who live outside of a mile of the school they attend.

The added expense will be paid for with savings from the maintenance budget.

"I think our parents can use the help and the assistance and providing that transportation's important. I think it frees up a lot of opportunities. I think it helps with our student attendance," Tomlinson said. "Instead of spending, let's say a couple hundred thousand dollars on roof leaks, HVAC repairs, water infultration, mold remediation, those types of issues, if we have a new building, not only do we have warranty on those buildings, but we also have better facilities that aren't going to have those issues so then we can spend that money instead of on maintenance on student programs such as busing."

To learn more about this issue, click here.