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A Hillcrest High School renovation is among projects that would be funded.
A Hillcrest High School renovation is among projects that would be funded.

SPS board moves to send $168M bond issue to voters

Posted online

The Springfield Public Schools Board of Education yesterday voted unanimously to forward a $168 million bond proposal to voters.

The April 2, 2019, ballot will ask for the green light on bonds to fund facility improvements across the district. The board’s vote follows a five-month review by the SPS Community Task Force on Facilities, which was formed to identify the biggest needs for the district, according to a news release.

In an October report, the task force recommended nine projects totaling $159.76 million in the first phase, with two other phases possibly going to voters, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. The $168 million bond proposal represents more than $8 million in additional funding beyond the task force recommendation. The board of education voted to add $3 million for additional secure entrances and funding to cover the cost of inflation 2019-22, according to agenda notes for yesterday’s meeting.

"Our study revealed that there is a significant need within the district, so we believe that it is imperative that the school board request funding for these critical projects," said task force co-Chairman David Hall, who works as emergency manager at Missouri State University, in the release. "We weighed the identified needs with feedback from community members about cost, impact on neighborhoods and equity, and we believe that conversation has produced recommendations our entire community can support."

Voters will be asked to approve an 18-cent increase to the debt-service levy phased in over two years to pay for the projects. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, the cost increase would be $34.20 annually, or $2.85 per month, according to the release.

The proposal calls for facility improvements that would affect 36 schools. The funding would add secure entrances at 31 schools and expand early childhood education with additional classroom space, according to the release.

The proposed projects include:
    •    the Phase I renovation of Hillcrest High School for $24.75 million, reducing its capacity to 1,200 students from 1,488 students, and connecting all campus buildings;
    •    the construction of a new Jarrett Middle School at the current Portland Elementary School site for $41.5 million;
    •    new construction of Boyd Elementary School on a site with a larger footprint in the Midtown neighborhood for $20.3 million;
    •    the renovation and expansion of Williams Elementary School to add a storm-shelter gymnasium and early childhood mini-hub for $17.97 million;
    •    the renovation of Sunshine Elementary School to add new classrooms and a storm-shelter gym for $13.9 million;
    •    new construction of Delaware Elementary School at its current site for $23.8 million;
    •    the creation of a new early childhood center for 250 preschool students, possibly on property near Carver Middle School for $12.7 million; and
    •    the addition of secure entrances by remodeling schools to have better control access points, for $7.8 million.

The bond proposal follows a similar $189 million request by SPS that failed in the April 2017 election.

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