Kelly tax proposal sixth try to fund building

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

BENTON, Mo. -- After voters soundly defeated a $4.9 million bond issue to fund new construction in Scott County's Kelly School District -- the fifth request in three years -- school officials went back to the drawing board.

Now, superintendent Don Moore hopes the sixth time will be Kelly's charm. He said the district has scaled back the construction proposal and is requesting a much leaner tax increase, 19 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation.

"Hopefully they will see the 19 cents as something they can handle," Moore said.

He'll find out April 2. A supermajority of four-sevenths is needed to pass the measure, which would increase the tax levy from $3.17 to $3.36 per $100 assessed valuation.

Under the proposed measure, a person with a $90,000 home would pay $32.49 more in taxes each year.

The last request, in November 2000, was for a 75-cent tax increase on every $100 assessed valuation. With just 49 percent of voters in favor, it didn't receive even a simple majority.

This time the district is asking approval for a $3 million bond issue. Proponents have explained the project at parent-teacher organization meetings and before civic organizations, hoping to drum up support.

"We've scaled back on the project and scaled way back on the taxes we've asked for," he said.

Moore said the district's goal is simple: to move students out of portable classrooms and into buildings.

Elementary music teacher Mendy McAlister teaches in a mobile classroom parked in front of the elementary school entrance. She shares the trailer with the art teacher.

"It would be nice to be inside the building," McAlister said.

Since art and music classes involve the youngest students, the trailer is close enough to the main building for emergencies, but none of the mobile units have bathroom facilities, a definite disadvantage for students in early grades.

Cold, wet weather can make it difficult for students to move back and forth between the mobile classrooms and main buildings, and they must be rushed inside the brick building during big windstorms.

Planned for the area east of the existing gymnasium, the proposed high school would add nine classrooms, a computer lab, library, two science labs and an administration office.

A spurt of growth in recent years seems to have leveled off, Moore said. This project would put the 1,050-some students under a solid roof.

"We're just playing catch-up," he said.

Plans for a multipurpose room, five extra classrooms, and an extra kitchen have been marked "Future" on floor plans.

If this measure passes, Moore said, the district will come back to voters in 2008 for approval of a no-tax-increase construction bond.

The house that now holds the superintendent's office would be sold or moved and the superintendent would move into the mobile home that now holds art and music classes. That trailer would likely be moved behind the school buildings, Moore said.

The other mobile units, which are leased for between $15,000 and $20,000 every year, would be removed.

"We just want to increase taxes 19 cents now and that's it." Moore said.

335-6611, extension 160

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