The Platte County R-3 school district needs to build facilities at Barry School and Siegrist Elementary School or it runs the risk of renting mobile classrooms in order to accommodate impending overcrowding at the two schools, Superintendent Dr. Mark Harpst reminded the school board last Thursday.
The best solution to the district’s overcrowding problem is to build a second building at the Barry School campus and an add-on plus remodeling at Siegrist Elementary School, on the Platte City campus, Harpst and architects have decided.
The school board agreed with the plan at their November board meeting.
The next step is paying for it.
All that remains before the first shovelful of dirt is turned is for the district to get the district’s voters to approve the district’s plan to pay for it.
The board voted 7-0 Thursday ngiht to ballot a general obligation bond issue on April 3.
The general obligation bond vote on April 3, 2007, will not ask the voters to raise local property taxes, as school bond issues sometimes ask. So, the April 3 issue is called a “no-tax-increase bond issue.”
The April 3 issue asks the R-3’s voters to allow the school district to borrow $13 million to pay for the construction of a second school at the Barry School campus and an addition onto Siegrist Elementary School, on the Platte City campus.
If approved, the $13 million bond issue would raise the school district’s debt to its state-regulated limit.
After the school board’s 7-0 vote to approve the bond issue language and ballot, Dr. Harpst reinforced that the district’s current levy rate would remain at its current level.
The owners of a $100,000 home within the R-3 district boundaries would continue to pay what they currently pay to the district in property taxes: about $355.30 per year.
The school district’s tax rate is lower for property zoned “agricultural” and higher for property zoned “commercial.”
If approved, George K. Baum & Company, of Kansas City, Mo., will be the bonds broker, Harpst said.
The issue requires a simple majority (1 vote over 50 percent).
Joan Shockley has volunteered to be the treasurer of the bond issue campaign committee, Harpst told the board. Shockley has served in a similar capacity on previous R-3 bond issues, Harpst said.
Harpst estimated that the bond issue campaign will require about $6,000 to “get its message out.” All that money will be funded through private donations, Harpst said.
Harpst also drew a mark of distinction between the current bond issue and issues of the past.
“This issue is bigger on the southern end of the district than the northern end of the district,” Harpst said.
The school district’s growth pattern necessitates the bond issue’s passage on April 3, Harpst said.
“It’s more important to move forward with this. Just because this has been successful in the past, we still have to work very hard,” Harpst said.
On the topic of R-3 district tax rates, Harpst also waxed futuristic about the negative effects a Platte County property occupancy tax system could have on the school district.
The Platte County commissioners voted 2-1 recently against an occupancy tax system on new home construction. The commission in essence voted to keep the current system of charging homebuilders regular property tax rates while their at least 50-percent built new home sits vacant, awaiting a buyer.
“Occupancy as it stands right now is not good for school districts. It (voting against occupancy tax) was certainly not a popular decision, and I commend our county commissioners for supporting what they believe is right,” Harpst said.