Three more groups have endorsed the Washington School District's $65 million bond issue as a citizens committee working to promote the ballot initiative continues its outreach effort to educate voters.
The bond issue, which includes a 46-cent property tax increase, will be on the April 3 ballot.
The latest endorsements are from the Washington Rotary Club, Carpenters Local 1839 and WINGS, the district's educational foundation.
The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, Washington Core Restructuring Committee, Washington Optimist Club and 353 Redevelopment Corporation also have endorsed the ballot proposal.
If approved, the district plans to construct a new elementary school, middle school and early childhood center, as well as renovate another building for an alternative school. Other renovations and improvments are planned districtwide, including upgrading technology and adding computer labs.
The Citizens for Great Schools Committee had another productive meeting Thursday night at the Chamber office, according to organizers.
The agenda included an update regarding endorsements to date, recruiting volunteers, parent outreach, voter registration, advertising materials needed and employee outreach.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the committee is right in line with the time line and chain of events that must occur when conducting a campaign of this magnitude.
"The majority of the time as of late has been spent on grassroots efforts to educate the public about what the bond issue is about," VanLeer said. "They are transitioning into a larger scale communication process soon."
Organizers said the advertising committee and the fundraising committee are working closely together as materials are developed.
The employee outreach team is focused on assisting staff with questions they may have, VanLeer said, while the parent outreach team continues to recruit volunteers in each of the eight attendance areas as well as educate parents and patrons about the facts.
Campaign Chairmen Brad Mitchell and John Freitag, and other committee speakers, have continued with the educational awareness efforts and have the secured additional endorsements, she added.
"John and Brad are doing a great job steering the Citizens for Great Schools team," VanLeer said. "The entire committee is comprised of dedicated people who value the quality of education in our district and community at large. I am proud to stand next to them as they try to educate the public about this bond issue. They are a terrific resource for people."
The committee continues to emphasize that residents must be registered to vote by March 7.
"Anyone who lives in the district can vote on April 3," VanLeer said. "Their registration paperwork must be mailed or delivered to the county clerk's office in the county in which they live."
Forms can be picked up at any of the schools or patrons can go to the district website at www.washington.k12.mo.us, click on Prop I, and then link to the secretary of state's office for more information.
VanLeer said she's pleased with the endorsements received to date and expects more in the coming weeks.
"It seems people are understanding the complexity of our situation," she said. "At all of the presentations, there have been some really good questions."
A public forum on the bond issue will be held Monday, March 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at South Point Elementary. This forum is open to anyone interested in learning more about the ballot issue and the district's long-range plans.
People who plan to attend are asked to contact Julie Bell at the district office, 636-231-2001, so school officials can make sure they have enough materials for all participants.
South Point was chosen as the location because it is one of the schools slated to be retired if the bond issue passes and a new elementary school is built. Fifth Street School also is proposed to close once the new school is built.
The district plans to phase-in the 46-cent property tax increase over three years - 2013, 2014 and 2015, so patrons will not feel the full impact immediately.
For more information, people may visit citizensforgreatschools.org or the district's web site.