Perryville schools asking voters to approve $3.36 million bond

Sunday, November 5, 2006

By MARK BLISS

Southeast Missourian

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Perryville school officials want voters to approve a $3.36 million general obligation bond issue in Tuesday's election. The measure would increase the school district's tax levy by 31 cents per $100 assessed valuation for six years to pay off the bonds.

It takes a supermajority of just over 57 percent to pass the measure, school officials said.

Voter approval would increase the district's tax rate from $3.20 to $3.51. But after six years the rate would drop back to its level before the bond issue, officials said.

Perry County School No. 32 superintendent Beverly Schonhoff said, "This will not be a burden for our taxpayers overall."

On a home with a market value of $100,000, the tax increase would amount to less than $59 a year, school officials said.

Schonhoff said the bonds would retire existing debt and free up operating-fund money to make needed improvements on the school campus.

The district would use revenue from the bond issue to pay the remainder it owes on lease-purchase agreements dating back to 1993, Schonhoff said.

Those lease-purchase agreements allowed the school district to construct, remodel and renovate the elementary, middle and high schools.

The financing arrangement was set up for a 20-year span. The district uses money from its operating fund to make payments on the debt. The payment for 2007 would have exceeded $600,000, school officials said.

Retiring the lease-purchase debt would free up revenue in the operating fund to make needed improvements, Schonhoff said.

The district wants to construct new, permanent classrooms to replace the trailers now used to house some classes at the elementary and middle schools.

School officials also want to replace outdated computers and heating and air-conditioning units, construct a larger nurse's office for the elementary school, and replace windows and improve adjoining walls to improve energy efficiency.

Schonhoff said the school system wants to expand parking at the high school and replace roofs on school buildings as needed.

The proposed improvements to the school campus are outlined in the district's long-range plan, the superintendent said.

"This is straightforward," she said of the bond issue and tax proposal. "We feel that the goals that we are wanting to realize with passage of the bond issue are in the best interest of children in the school district," said Schonhoff.

The district, which has more than 2,200 students, has a growing enrollment, she said.

The school board first began looking at how to finance the district's long-range goals in February. "The school board spent several months looking at" ways to finance these goals, the superintendent said.

School officials decided in July to place the bond issue before voters in the November election. That's given school officials months to explain the measure to voters.

No organized opposition has surfaced, Schonhoff said. "It has been a positive experience for us through this process," she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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