By an overwhelming majority, voters in the Phelps County R-III School District Tuesday approved a school bond issue that will help pay for building safety improvements.

According to unofficial election results from the county clerk's website, there were 158 "yes" votes, or 78.61 percent, cast in favor of the no-tax-increase bond issue called Proposition Safety compared to 43 "no" votes, or 21.39 percent.

The proposition required approval by four-sevenths, or about 57.14 percent, of the voters to pass.

Passage of the school bond issue will keep the debt service levy unchanged at $0.1407 per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome," said R-III District Superintendent Sherry Heavin. "Our community is very supportive of education, especially student safety ... I would like to thank the patrons of Phelps County R-III School District for supporting Proposition Safety. With their vote, they have enabled us to make a safer environment in which students can learn. It's very much appreciated."

The proposition, now that it has passed, will allow the school district to 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 total cost of the project is $551,248 and the school district will provide a 25 percent match, which translates to $137,812, Heavin said.

In addition to the safe room, the bond issue will help fund building renovations, such as new entrance doors with access control and upgrades to the cafeteria among other improvements.

School board race

Also in Tuesday's race, voters in the school district chose Eva Caroline Bradford and Justin Burrus to sit on the school board.

Bradford, Burrus and Kim Porter all were vying for two open seats on the board. School board members in the district serve three-year terms.

Burrus received the most votes with 128, or 36.57 percent, with Bradford close behind with 126 votes, or 36 percent. Porter received 96 votes, or 27.43 percent, according to the county clerk's website.

For Bradford, this will mark the beginning of her seventh term on the school board.

"I think it was my experience as a board member as much anything (that got me re-elected) plus my experience with community work," she said. "I would like the voters to know I appreciate their votes and their confidence."

Bradford said the issues she would like to focus on as a board member this term are budgetary issues and "making sure that we get our building upgrades done that are needed."

Burrus, who was elected as a newcomer, said he was "extremely excited" about being elected to the board. He said he was surprised and happy about the outcome of the election.

"I'd like to thank everyone in the district who voted for me," Burrus said. "I'm going to hit the ground running. I'm really happy with the school and I wanted to serve the community. I think it's always good to have some different ideas coming in."