Altenburg School District to decide next step after Tuesday defeat of bond issue

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ALTENBURG, Mo. -- In the wake of a failed bond issue, many decisions in the Altenburg School District will hinge on actions at the state level.

In Tuesday's election, 56 percent of voters turned down a $2.4 million proposal to build a new school. The bond issue would have increased the tax rate by 83 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Superintendent Bleau Deckerd said the board approved the proposal in November before many uncertainties arose with state funding. Like other districts across the state, Altenburg now faces a cut in its June payment from the state. According to projections from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the district's cut could range between $6,000 and $13,000.

Deckerd said the state of the economy likely contributed to the proposal's failure. He said there is enough room in the district's $1.5 million budget to address the more immediate needs like leaking roofs, but he wants to avoid dipping into reserves to help weather the recession.

The school board will hold its regular meeting tonight. Deciding the next step is part of the agenda, he said.

"Obviously that's going to be up to them to try and figure out what direction we're going to take," he said. In February, the district bought land along Route C for the proposed school.

Traditionally, Deckerd said the district has been financially conservative and placed more emphasis on academics. The district will have to shift some of its focus to the condition of the facilities, he said. One district building dates to 1911.

"Books and desks are going to be pointless if you don't have a place to put them," he said.

The kindergarten-through-eighth-grade district houses about 115 students in four buildings.

Another Southeast Missouri proposal supported by a tax rate increase of nearly a dollar also failed. Voters in Doniphan, Mo., rejected a $8.5 million bond issue to build a new elementary school with 68 percent voting no. The proposal would have increased the tax rate by 98 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Statewide, the majority of school proposals passed. According to information compiled by the Missouri School Boards' Association, voters approved 30 out of 47 school proposals.

In Southeast Missouri, four districts won voter approval -- Cape Girardeau, Bloomfield, Ste. Genevieve and South Pemiscot County school districts.

Cape Girardeau's $40 million proposal was one of the biggest in Missouri, but a third of the Columbia School District's $120 million proposal, the largest in state history. Neither issue required a tax rate increase. The Columbia School District will build a new high school, elementary school and two gymnasiums, among other renovations.

A $1.5 million bond issue in Bloomfield will fund new roofs and other repairs, according to the Dexter Daily Statesman. The proposal, which passed by 64 percent, will increase the tax rate by 27 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

In South Pemiscot County, 64 percent of voters approved an increase in the tax levy ceiling of 50 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The money generated by the increase will go toward a new junior high school and library, repairs to the family consumer science room and other operational needs.

Ste. Genevieve's $9.5 million bond proposal passed with 76 percent of the vote. The proposal will not increase the district's tax rate. According to the association, the district has plans to build an auditorium and classrooms.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

8432 Main St. Altenburg, MO

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