Voters in the Phelps County R-III School District will decide on whether or not to approve a school bond issue April 2 to help pay for school safety improvements.
The bond issue, known as Proposition Safety, will asking voters if the school district should borrow $315,000 to be combined with a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to help pay for a tornado safe room and make other safety improvements to the school.
The proposition requires approval by four-sevenths, or about 57.14 percent, of the voters to pass.
R-III District Superintendent Sherry Heavin said the bond issue is not a tax increase. There will be no change to the debt service levy.
“It would just extend the time of the debt service,” Heavin said.
Heavin told The Rolla Daily News last week that the school district learned in November that it was approved for the FEMA grant to pay for a tornado safe room. The total cost of the project is $551,248 and the school district will provide a 25 percent match, which translates to $137,812.
“The room can be utilized how ever the board of education decides,” she said, noting that while it would be a room that students, staff and administration can go to in case of a tornado or other severe weather, it could also potentially be used as a classroom.
Heavin said the remaining safety improvements would include “additional safety to our doors and tightening up safety in the front of our building.”
The superintendent also noted the school bond issue would pay for renovations such as adding room signs, door locks and upgrades to the cafeteria.
Heavin said school officials and the board decided to place the proposition on the ballot to complete the work in totality.
“Otherwise with a tight budget, it would just be done one piece at a time,” she said. “With the opportunity while we had the construction (of a safe room) here we though we should address other needs and we’re sure hopeful it will pass. Our community is very supportive of schools.”
The actual text of the proposition that will appear on the ballot is as follows:
“Shall the Board of Education of the Phelps County R-III School District, Missouri, without an estimated increase in the current debt service property tax levy, borrow money in the amount of Three Hundred Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($315,000) for the purpose of providing funds to combine with resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the site development, construction equipping and furnishing of a tornado safe room; to complete repairs and renovations to the existing school building; and issue bonds for the payment thereof? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the School District is estimated to remain unchanged at $0.1407 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.”