Neosho R-5 School District patrons will have a visual of what a proposed junior high school would look like before going to the polls Aug. 5, to decide upon a $24 million bond issue to build the structure.

Eric McCune, architect, Sapp Designs, Springfield, provided school board members several artist conceptions of the proposed school building during a work session last week. The board is expected to approve those drawings to distribute to the public at its regular July board of education meeting next Monday, July 21.

 “One of the things the community wanted was pictures,” explained Dan Decker, R-5 superintendent.

Decker said no images of the proposed junior high were presented to voters before the same issue was narrowly defeated by voters in April.

“It’s been really hard to get the pictures because as a district we were trying not to spend a bunch of money in case the issue didn’t pass, then we had $100/$200,000 out there that wasn’t going to be of use at this time,” he said. “We were trying to be frugal with money, but the community indicated they wanted to see pictures, and so we’ve worked with the architect since the April election and tonight we finished up what the preliminary look will be, and we’re going to get some banners made and we’ll put them by the high school on the Boulevard so the community can actually go by and see roughly what they building is going to look like. That’s a high traffic area: hopefully we’ll have a lot of people be able to see it and maybe spark a little bit of interest.”

Decker said the board has ordered pictures that present a front view of the proposed school, and a three-quarter view that provides a view of the top and the layout of the entire building.

 “So they’ll see what they are actually getting for the bond, for the issue. A lot of times you just see the front, and you’re like, ‘Well that doesn’t look like much.’ But when you see the overall schematic from the top and you see that actual square footage that you are getting for the money spent, I think the community will be pleased.”

Needing a four-sevenths majority or 57.14 percent for passage, the measure received just over 52 percent voter support in April. Decker said supporters spent much time prior to that election trying to convince people that it was the right thing to do — trying to convince “no” votes to come around and see that it was an effort to do the right thing for kids.

“Since then, what the bond committee has decided to do is not to concentrate so much on changing a ‘no’ vote to a ‘yes’ vote, but to look at the number of people who didn’t vote in the last election, find those ‘yes’ votes and get them to the polls,” Decker said.  “So we’ve spent a lot of time, we’ve got voting records of the people who voted and who didn’t vote who are registered within the district. What we’ve done is we’ve taken those and each one of the bond committee, and administrators and people who are willing to help – and went through the list and found people who didn’t vote that would be a ‘yes’ vote or had indicated they would have voted ‘yes’, but for whatever reason they didn’t go to the polls. And they’ve made it a point to make those contacts and encourage them that they need to get out to the polls on the fifth of August.”

The proposed junior high school would be a two-story structure containing 32 classrooms. Though the school board is still soliciting input from staff to compile the exact schematics, core classrooms would be placed at one end with a commons in the center, and the gym, music, art, shop and home economics would be located at the other end. The gym or commons area would double as a storm shelter.

McCune also updated the school board on the progress of the FEMA storm shelters going in at the high school, and then at South and Carver elementary schools. McCune said they do not know exactly what is there until they dig into it, and explained that an unknown sewer line was found while digging in front of the high school, a line that is being moved. He said groundwork will progress to South and then Carver, and that will be the order for constructing the actual shelters, with plans for all work to be finished by next spring.

McCune proposed the board create a sign that explains what is being done and why, and the purposes why the shelter is being constructed at that location at the high school. He then proposed a second sign to explain the need for the junior high school.

School board member Jonathan Russell proposed putting the word “Community” on the storm shelter, to explain to the community that it is also for them to take shelter from approaching dangerous storms, and not just for the school students.