Voters to decide on $8 million school bond issue in Poplar Bluff

By Christy Hendricks - email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Update: Voters passed the school bond issue by 76 percent Tuesday.
Voters will decide on an $8 million school bond issue for a new kindergarten center in Poplar Bluff Tuesday. 
The bond issue won't increase taxes right now, but it will extend the debt of the school to add ten years until it will paid off from 2019 to 2029 eight.
The $8 million will build a new $5 to 6 million kindergarten center on the west side of town on Highway PP and renovate the jr. high building. 
School administrators say those improvements are badly needed for a growing district.
Superintendent Ernie Lawson says the 20 plus acres gives the district room to grow instead of the landlocked site they're at now.
"The playground is small for 425 kindergarteners," Lawson said. "There is no parking for this building for the amount of staff that we have here and we're landlocked. There's just no room to expand. We're problem as big as we're going to get."
Lawson says the jr. high, built in 1956, needs major renovations.
"The hopefully $2.5 million renovation over there will remove the asbestos, put new lights, new windows, new heat, new air, new tile, new paint.  Just everything would be brand new," Lawson said. 
Part of the proposed renovations to the jr. high is to overhaul the electrical system.  The schools has added conduits to bring in additional electricity, but school administrators say it's not enough to meet their needs.
"Currently we'd like to add air conditioning to the gymnasium and that's going to be a real challenge without the bond issue passing," Lawson said.
Similar measures have been on the ballot three other times, but always with a tax increase.  All three failed to pass.
"With the economy like it is people are really going to be leary of voting that may increase their taxes at this time," said Eddie Skorce of Poplar Bluff. 
"Nobody has any extra money. We understand that," said Lawson.
"We're going to pay for it one way or another, but we'll just continue with the bond we've already got," said Gene Gibbs of Poplar Bluff.
"It's about 21st century education and that's where we need to push to," said Floyd Andrews of Poplar Bluff. 
The bond issue needs 57.14 % majority to pass.
If it is passed, the superintendent says the new kindergarten center could be finished in two years and the renovations at the jr. high finished next summer.

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