Citizens Group Promoting Washington School Bond Issue Meets - The Missourian: Communities

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Citizens Group Promoting Washington School Bond Issue Meets

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Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013 6:30 pm | Updated: 9:21 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

A citizens campaign committee formed to promote passage of the Washington School District’s bond issue in April met Wednesday night.

Committee assignments and roles were discussed, said Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer, who also attended to update members on the district’s latest proposal.

The district is asking voters to approve a $49 million bond issue with a 25-cent tax increase. The proposition will be split into two questions.

The first question will ask patrons to approve a $9 million bond issue with a no-tax rate increase for wireless infrastructure for classrooms district-wide, construction of an early childhood center, an addition at Marthasville Elementary and HVAC improvements at Augusta Elementary.

The second question will be for approval of a $40 million bond issue with a 25-cent tax increase to construct and equip a new middle school on the now vacant property the district owns on east Highway 100.

The citizens committee co-chairs are Brad Mitchell and John Freitag, who served in the same role last year when the district was seeking a $65 million proposal and 46-cent tax hike. That proposal was voted down.

About 30 people are serving on the citizens committee, VanLeer said.

“The core group is the same from last time, but we have some new faces and a few who declined this time around,” she said.

Advertising and promotional materials were on the agenda Wednesday night, as well as a discussion on fundraising to pay for the marketing efforts.

“They talked about what kind of budget they would need to get their message out,” VanLeer said.

The group discussed its outreach efforts to inform patrons of the new proposal, specifically presentations to area civic groups and service organizations, and parents and school groups.

The citizens committee will meet again Monday, Feb. 4. Anyone is welcome to serve on the committee, VanLeer said.

Proposal

VanLeer said approval of both questions would provide the district with most relief in terms of space for the district.

If a new middle school is built, it would serve sixth, seventh and eighth grades, freeing up space at all eight elementary schools which currently house sixth grade.

The current middle school would then be utilized as a temporary elementary school until a new K-five school can be built. The district also would consolidate Fifth Street and South Point schools at this site.

If voters approve only the first question — the $9 million bond issue which does not require a tax rate hike — a new middle school will not be built.

The district would still be able to address some of its technology needs, VanLeer said, which is critical with new state assessments on the horizon that will require all testing to be done online.

A new early childhood center, which the district plans to seek partial reimbursement from the state on, also would be built bringing all of the district’s early learning programs under one roof, including the in-town preschools.

Currently, early childhood special education is located in trailers on the Washington West campus and the Parents as Teachers program is located in the Technology and Learning Center. Preschool is offered at various elementary schools.

The early childhood center would be built on the Washington West Elementary campus off West Highway 100.

Both the $9 million and $40 million bond issues require a 57.14 percent majority to pass. If the district were to run the proposals in August or November, they would require two-thirds majority to pass.

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