Neosho R-5 School District voters turned down a $24 million bond issue on Tuesday. The bond issue would have been to build a new junior high school for the district.
“We were shooting for a junior high to move the eighth grade out of the high school, the seventh grade out of the middle school, because both of those facilities are over crowded,” Neosho R-5 School District Superintendent Dan Decker said.
By the numbers: Yes 2,262 votes to 2,339 (no votes).
“We needed 57.1 percent, so we fell short,” said Decker. “We were a little bit under what we were last time, we were at least in the 50s [percentile] last time.
“We see there is a majority for the most part of the community. They are in support of the school and direction that we want to go. We have had a lot of people that worked really hard to try to get out and help the community see the need, not only for the school district, but also for the community in Neosho, so we as a school district want to thank all of those people for all of their hard work.”
Asked what is next, Decker said they will “step back.”
“But we need to step back, analyze where we are at and see what we might need to change in order to come back with this probably in April 2016,” he said.
Asked if the school district goes back to the voters in April 2016, will it be the same amount on the bond issue, Decker said “no.”
“Unfortunately no, and that is the bad part about bond issues with schools, the $24 million in March (2014), the building cost for the junior high facility is $150 a square foot,” he said. “So we would have been able to build that facility for just around $20 million, so we would have had $4 million that we could have used to upgrade facilities and do those kind of things. Between March and the end of May, it had went from $150 a square foot, to around $180 a square foot. So, we were basically going to be able to build the building and put furniture in it. So each time, the longer that you wait out, it would be — I would venture to guess $26 [million or] probably $27 million — to build this same facility in 2016. So we are going to have to go back after a larger amount to build the same facility and that is the bad part about it.”
As far as why the school district would have to wait to put the issue on the April 2016 ballot, Decker said it is because of the percentage of passage.
“Next year, it would be 66 percent [to pass],” he said. “For now, we probably need to step back anyway, take some time, and do some more surveys, visit again with the community and see what we can tweak and move to maybe get us over the hump.”