Caruthersville School Issues

Caruthersville School Issues
By: Holly Brantley

CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. -- Caruthersville still shows the scars of last year's tornado. High School students attend classes in trailers brought in to replace the damaged high school building.
A rift between Caruthersville School District and its insurance company are holding up a new high school being built.  This, as taxpayers must decide if they're willing to pay higher taxes to give students a new building.
In fact, signs urging folks to vote 'Yes' for a new high school stand just yards from Caruthersville's storm damaged high school. April 2nd's tornado ripped it apart.
Now, students attend classes in modular trailers. Seniors hope future classes will get a new building as soon as possible. "I know it'll raise taxes," said Osby Tomlin, Caruthersville Senior. "But the conditions we face are not good."
The building is insured, but the school board says a bond issue is needed along with insurance money to build an adequate new building. That brings up another problem: The insurance company feels it would be less expensive to repair the old building.
"The district feels the amount of damage exceeds the value of the school and we feel it should be replaced," said Superintendent, Dr. Nick Thiele.
Residents like Frank Pierce don't understand why taxpayers need to pay for a new building. He thinks the district should fight the insurance company for the entire $7-million and leave taxpayers out of it.
"Cost too much," said Pierce. "Are taxes are already absolutely too high!"
But other residents like Susan Townsend say the time is right for a new building. "We're 100% for it," said Townsend.
"It's kind of divided," said Tomlin. "Everybody wants a new school, nobody wants to pay."
Thiele knows it's impossible to please everybody, but argues a new building is a must.
"We certainly can't convince anybody to vote the way we want them to vote," said Thiele.
Seventeen district buildings were damaged in the April 2006 tornado. The district and the insurance company have agreed on everything, but the new high school. The two sides will try to hammer it out in March.