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FACELIFT: A nearly $14 million renovation of Sunshine Elementary School is among the first wave of projects.
Photo provided by Springfield Public Schools
FACELIFT: A nearly $14 million renovation of Sunshine Elementary School is among the first wave of projects.

SPS gets green light for $168M in improvement projects

On election day: Prop S passes, council gets a new member and capital improvement tax renews

Posted online

Springfield voters passed a school bond initiative on a second attempt and added a new face to City Council at the ballot box April 2.

Proposition S, the $168 million bond proposal by Springfield Public Schools, was approved with 61 percent of the popular vote in Greene County, according to the preliminary election results posted at GreenCountyMo.gov. In Missouri, laws governing bond elections require 57.14 percent of the vote to pass.

The bond issuance allows SPS to move forward on making 39 facility improvement projects funded by an 18-cent debt-service levy phased in over two years.

District spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said one of the first jobs addressed will be secure entrances, budgeted for $7.8 million.

She said the work is scheduled to begin by June, with the first open bidding period starting April 12 for the secure entrances jobs.

After the secure entrance jobs, the next wave of projects are construction of a Southwest Region Early Childhood Center for $12.69 million, new construction of Delaware Elementary School for $23.78 million and a renovation of Sunshine Elementary School for $13.89 million, Bledsoe said.

“In the design phase, going on now through May and June, staff at those schools will be engaged on the design process,” Bledsoe said.

SPS Superintendent John Jungmann signaled his thanks to the Springfield community in a statement provided by Bledsoe.

“While our schools are so much more than brick and mortar, we understand that the students we serve deserve the best learning environments that we can provide,” Jungmann said.

Voters shot down a 2017 proposal by SPS to issue $189 million in bonds for facility improvements.

For the two open seats on the SPS Board of Education, incumbents Alina Lehnert and Charles Taylor were selected by voters. Lehnert received 37 percent of the vote and Taylor received 35.6 percent, while a third candidate, Shurita Thomas-Tate earned 26 percent.

City government
A new face on Springfield City Council is Abe McGull, who ran unopposed for Tom Prater’s Zone 2 seat. Prater did not seek re-election. McGull is an assistant U.S. attorney practicing in criminal and civil litigation.  

In the contested races, incumbent Zone 3 Councilman Mike Schilling defeated Noah Snelson. Schilling received nearly 75 percent of the votes.

Councilman Andrew Lear, who last year was appointed to finish former Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky’s term, won with 49 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race. He was chosen over Amy Champlin, 35 percent, and Jaye Owens, 15.8 percent, for General Seat C.

Mayor Ken McClure, Zone 4 Councilman Matthew Simpson – who took over last year for Craig Fishel – and General Seat D Councilman Richard Ollis all ran unopposed for re-election. 

The council members were elected to four-year terms, with McClure filling a two-year term as mayor. 

Also, the city’s quarter-cent capital improvement sales tax was renewed with 77.4 percent of voter approval. The tax has generated around $250 million since its inception 30 years ago.

With the latest approval, the city received permission for a 20-year sunset officials say will allow all project phases to be completed in one cycle, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting. Plans call for road, bridge, stormwater and sidewalk projects through the tax expected to generate $11 million annually.

Voter turnout was 17.3 percent, according to the Greene County clerk’s summary report.

Nixa, Branson votes 
Voters in Nixa passed two issues to shore up funding for Nixa Public Schools. 

The district received the green light for a $15 million debt-service bond issue that did not raise taxes. Voters also approved a levy increase of 41 cents for teacher salaries, as well as construction and renovation projects.

In Branson, incumbent Mayor Karen Best was defeated by Edd Akers, who secured 50.8 percent of the vote, according to Taney County’s unofficial results from April 2. Best was elected mayor in April 2015.

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