The citizens committee promoting passage of the Washington School District’s April bond issue election met again Monday night.
Proposition R: Right Now for Children seeks voter approval of a $49 million bond issue with a 25-cent tax rate increase. The proposal will be split in to two questions on the ballot.
About 22 committee members turned out Monday night, according to Brad Mitchell, co-chair of the Citizens for Great Schools group.
“The meeting began with a look at our fund-raising efforts followed by specific discussion regarding our actions going forward,” he said.
“Our ultimate goals are to make sure that as many people as possible obtain the facts, learn about the proposition and care enough to vote on April 2, 2013,” he said. “We have scheduled to share our vision at about 35 events, whether it be city or civic organizations, parent groups, or otherwise.”
Mitchell’s co-chair John Freitag said the meeting was very productive with a lot of good ideas shared.
“We are hard at work and look forward to sharing the information,” Freitag said. “We will meet again on Feb. 20 to check on our progress and strategically plan the final weeks of the campaign.”
Mitchell said the committee also is working on getting promotional signs and materials ready for distribution.
He encourages voters to visit the school district’s website — www.washington.k12.mo.us. — for additional information on the bond issue. A short, informational video also can be found at the site.
Freitag said the citizens committee is made up of people who care deeply about doing what is right for kids. Many of the members also served on last year’s committee promoting a $65 million bond issue for new construction, renovation and technology improvements. That proposal was rejected by voters.
“Having participated in the focus group meetings, I have looked at the data and understand the rationale for the bond issue,” Freitag said. “It is my hope that others will learn from our efforts as a committee and take the time to vote. We have scaled back the plan and will address the needs in parts. The proposition is thoughtful, data driven and sensible.”
The first question on the ballot will seek approval of a $9 million bond issue with a no-tax rate increase for wireless infrastructure for classrooms districtwide, construction of an early childhood center, classroom additions at Marthasville Elementary and HVAC improvements at Augusta Elementary.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said question one is dedicated to projects that can be completed with absolutely no increase to the current debt service levy.
If approved, students and teachers will be able to utilize laptops, tablets and other 21st century learning tools from anywhere in their school building, she said.
The new early childhood center will enable the district to better serve all families in the community by combining three programs under one roof — the intown preschools, early childhood special education and Parents as Teachers.
VanLeer said a new HVAC system at Augusta Elementary and classroom additions at Marthasville Elementary will meet facility improvement goals.
The second question seeks approval of a $40 million bond issue with a 25-cent tax rate increase to construct and equip a new middle school on the now vacant property the district owns on east Highway 100, and renovate the current middle school into a K-5 elementary school.
VanLeer said a new 6-8 middle school will create much-needed classroom space at all eight elementary schools, while renovations at the current middle school will allow the district to retire two aging facilities — South Point and Fifth Street schools.
South Point is located in a 100-year floodplain and Fifth Street is in need of significant repair.
VanLeer said the plan also eliminates overcrowding and improves student safety due to the discontinuation of modular trailers, closets and hallways as classrooms, and provides a proper 21st century learning environment for all students.
If only the first question passes, school officials said art, music programs, P.E. and athletics, preschool, gifted education and class sizes are at risk of being negatively impacted.
Both proposals would require a 57.14 percent majority to pass.