Voters to decide on bond issues, board members Tuesday

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tuesday's election will decide if Jackson is ready for a seventh elementary school and whether to add to a history of voter-approved school facilities improvements in Oak Ridge.

Meanwhile voters in those two and numerous other districts will also choose members of their school boards.

Supporters of a bond issue that would provide $16 million for a new elementary in Jackson say another school will alleviate overcrowding in classrooms, ease traffic congestion near schools and help meet demand for preschool services. Opponents say a new school with a planned expansion of preschool will hurt private businesses and that enrollment numbers in the district don't reflect a need.

The bond issue has the support of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

In 2005, voters approved $19.8 million for the high school addition, which was completed in 2010 for a total cost of $22.5 million, according to a recent district estimate. The district owes on those bonds until 2021. Passage of the elementary bond issue would extend the debt for 10 years and not increase tax rates or change the current tax levy.

Oak Ridge voters will decide whether to fund $1.5 million in improvements to the elementary main building and library wing.

Superintendent Dr. Gerald Landewee said the age of the buildings is causing the need for improvements, which would include new roofing, a central HVAC system, upgrades to electrical and plumbing systems, restroom renovation and replacement of some windows. Electrical upgrades would allow more use of technology in classrooms and a safer building, district officials say, while other work would also improve safety and the classroom environment.

Voters passed previous bond issues to build a high school in 1995 and to build a middle school and multipurpose building with a gym and band room for the schools in 2001. Passage of the proposition would not increase taxes but instead lengthen payments on bonds the district already owes.

School board candidates in both districts support the bond issues. Two candidates with the highest number of votes will win three-year terms in each district.

Board races

In Jackson, 12-year incumbent Brent Wills will face off against Pat Wissman and Paul Stoner. Wills voted to approve placing the bond issue on the ballot.

Wissman said passing the bond issue makes sense because interest rates are low and bargaining for construction costs is possible. He is the custodial grandparent of two students in the district and had previous unsuccessful runs for Jackson School Board and presiding commissioner of Cape Girardeau County. He is a retired over-the-road truck driver.

Stoner is also in favor of building a new elementary school. He is an operations manager for FedEx and has two daughters who attend Jackson schools.

Incumbent Cathy Goodman did not file for re-election.

In Oak Ridge, nine-year incumbent Mike Light and six-year incumbent Matt Puchbauer are seeking to retain their seats. They will be challenged by Robert Grayhek, Saint Francis Medical Center's director of trauma and disaster services and parent of two Oak Ridge students.

All three candidates support passage of the bond issue.

Cape Girardeau School Board incumbents Kyle McDonald and Deneke Murphy will be challenged by Lynn Ware, a coordinator of the Safe Communities program for the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

In Perryville, incumbent Kevin Bachmann will be joined on the ballot by Mark Gremauld, Linda Reinwald-Pickup, Janette Call and Jim Johnson. Incumbent Jim Bauwens did not file for re-election.

Vying for seats in Scott City are incumbent Gary Miller, Chris Clayton, Roger R. Buckner and Beth McDonough Cox.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

614 E. Adams St., Jackson, MO

North Lacey Street and Stotler Way, Jackson, MO

4198 Route E, Oak Ridge, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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