Jackson, Oak Ridge voters give resounding approval to school bond issues

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Linda Hollis checks in to vote in Byrd 1 precinct at First Baptist Church in Jackson Tuesday, April 3, 2012 with election officials Karen Bollinger, right, and Laraine Adams. (Fred Lynch)

Voters gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the Jackson School District to add a seventh elementary school and boosted the ability of the Oak Ridge School District to deal with aging elementary buildings.

Seventy percent of voters in 20 Jackson School District precincts in Cape Girardeau County gave their support to borrowing $16 million for the new school, which will be built on North Lacey Street.

Oak Ridge School District precinct voters in Cape Girardeau County supported that $1.5 million bond issue with 90 percent voting "yes," while the bond issue had support of 75 percent of voters in the district's two Perry County precincts.

Superintendents from both districts gathered at Cape Girardeau County's election center in the bottom floor of the County Administration Building to watch the returns come in. When most of the county's major precincts were reported, school officials praised the support they saw.

"I'm very pleased for the students, the staff and the community," said Jackson superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson.

Requests for bids for the new school could go out as early as this coming winter. The school is planned to have enough classrooms for four sections of kindergarten through fifth grades and 10 preschool classrooms in about 98,000 square feet. The district already owns the 15 acres where the school will be built.

Oak Ridge will receive upgrades to its elementary buildings with passage of its bond issue. Work will begin this summer. Superintendent Dr. Gerald Landewee said the passage of the bond issue continues the tradition of voter support of the school district and its needs.

"They have done it in the past, and we feel the community will continue to support the kids," he said. "We are very grateful."

Neither bond issue will raise taxes in the school districts; both will extend the amount of time the districts will pay on current bond debts.

A proposition by the Jackson School District in 2000 to build an elementary school in the same location was voted down. This time a difference could have been made through the use of social media, said Jason Wray, who served on the proposition support committee "Keep Jackson Kids First."

The committee sent out 10,000 mailers to voters twice and placed signage throughout the district, but the committee's online presence was the push the campaign needed, he said. The committee had a Facebook page, a YouTube video that received more than 2,000 views and its own website.

Eleven percent of all registered voters in Cape Girardeau County participated in the election. Turnout in Jackson precincts was higher than in other areas because of the Jackson bond issue, said County Clerk Kara Clark Summers.

Anderson said the last bond issue on the ballot, for $19.8 million for additions to the high school, saw an election with 25 percent voter turnout in August 2005. He said Tuesday before returns came in that he expected a 15 percent turnout.

Voters who did not support Jackson's bond issue said they were opposed to lengthening debt for the district, the planned location of the school and the possible effects of more preschool availability on private preschools.

Supporters such as Lisa Brown, a Byrd 1 precinct voter, said she voted in favor of the bond issue because she thought the district needs more schools because of more people moving into the area.

School board races

Numerous local school board races were also decided Tuesday. Two seats for three-year terms were available in each district. In Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City, one incumbent will remain on each board. Kyle McDonald, a former president and vice president on the Cape Girardeau School Board, was re-elected. Incumbent Deneke Murphy, who was appointed by the board in August to replace a resigning member, did not receive enough votes to stay on. Lynn Ware, a community programs coordinator for the Cape Girardeau Police Department, will serve as the board's newest member.

In Jackson, incumbent Brent Wills retained his seat, and will be joined by Paul Stoner, a parent of two Jackson students and an operations manager for FedEx. Pat Wissman came in third. Incumbent Gary Miller retained his seat in Scott City and the other seat went to Beth McDonough Cox.

In Oak Ridge, newcomer Rob Grayhek will serve on the board in addition to incumbent Matt Puchbauer. Incumbent Mike Light will not retain his seat.

Others winners included:

* Linda Eggimann and Charles Mayo in the Advance School District.

* Stephen W. Garland and Robert P. Wilson in the Meadow Heights School District.

* Edward Vandeven and Barbara Bucher won in the Leopold School District.

* Mary L. Hunt and Sarah Stueve won in the Altenburg School District.

* Kevin Bachmann and Mark Gremaud took seats on the Perry County School Board.

* Patrick O'Brien and Alexander Heath Burger won in the Kelso School District.

* Mark Householder and David Collier won in the Kelly School District.

* Carla Graviett and Marty Priggel won in the Oran School District.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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