VIENNA — The postponement of Missouri municipal elections until Tuesday, June 2, has left Maries R-1 School District, which has a bond issue on the ballot, looking to revamp its campaign and …
VIENNA — The postponement of Missouri municipal elections until Tuesday, June 2, has left Maries R-1 School District, which has a bond issue on the ballot, looking to revamp its campaign and get information about the bond issue out to voters.
Due to the uncertainties brought about from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several weeks, the “No Tax Increase” bond issue initially scheduled to be held in April was postponed until June 2, 2020. At this time the Maries R-1 School District is taking additional steps to ensure that information about the upcoming bond issue is shared with voters.
When talking with Maries R-1 Superintendent Mark Parker, he explained the upcoming “No Tax Increase” bond issue is a very important step for the school district. “This is a chance for our school to make improvements without costing the taxpayers more money than what they are paying now.” The bond issue, titled Prop K.I.D.S., stands for Keep Improving District Schools, and if passed, will do just that.
If Prop K.I.D.S. passes, the debt service property tax rate is estimated to remain unchanged at 44 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property and will provide the school district with $2.5 million to make needed improvements to the school facilities. “This is a great opportunity to make necessary and needed improvements without anyone’s taxes going up,” Parker said.
The district plans to use the money to complete the following facility improvements:
• Safety—Improve/add security entrances at both the high school and elementary school: Parker said, “Safety is the top priority at Maries R-1. After conducting a comprehensive security audit, our school administration team deemed that the main school entrances were two of the most vulnerable points. This is why these improvements would be number one on our list to get completed.” In conjunction with the security entrances, the school will add a visitor management system that would help check backgrounds of those wishing to gain access to the school buildings.
• Safety—Upgrading/replacing existing exterior doors: In several places throughout the elementary and middle school buildings, the existing exterior doors would be replaced due to the doors not always securing properly when they close. In some locations the exterior doors are surrounded by glass which adds visibility into the school from outside the building. These issues will also be addressed as the doors are replaced.
• Safety and Energy Efficiency—Window replacement: In both the elementary and middle school buildings, classrooms have an entire wall of windows. These are not energy efficient and they add a safety risk as visibility into the classrooms is easily accessible from the outside. These walls of windows will be remodeled into a wall with only two windows. This will continue to allow natural light into the room and will cut down the line of sight into the classrooms as well as add energy efficiency.
• Remodel the gym entrance to follow ADA guidelines and add a concession stand for events: Currently the entryway does not provide a convenient way for entry for those with an injury or disability due to outside steps and very tight spaces within the building. This will expand the hallway area, add a concession stand area and will connect the existing entryway to the “new band room”. The entryway will be designed to be ADA compliant.
• Remodeling the “Old Library” area into a new band room: Currently the band room is below the old library area. To get to the band room, students are required to walk down a narrow set of stairs and go through the weight room. This route is very difficult for students requiring a wheelchair or crutches to navigate. This renovation will allow anyone to access this room without difficulty.
• Make improvements to existing parking lots: Currently the school has a gravel student parking area, two asphalt parking areas, and an asphalt road that circles the buildings. The asphalt areas are starting to fall apart due to traffic and drainage issues. The school’s plan is to address the drainage issues and get those fixed first. Then they will decide whether to reseal, resurface, or to replace the existing asphalt areas. The heavy traffic areas will be replaced with thicker asphalt or with cement to withstand the heavy traffic for a longer period of time. Additional lighting will be added for safety measures.
• Track Improvements: Currently the track is in very poor shape and needs to be addressed in order to make it safe for participants. The track has many cracks with grass growing in them. Some of the inside and outside lanes are sinking or unleveled. It is becoming unsafe for those who use it. The plan (based on budget and future plans) will be to either a) resurface and reline the track after sealing the cracks or, b) take up the existing track, fix all drainage issues, realign the field event areas and track, replace the asphalt and reline or add an all-weather surface to the track. The plan chosen will depend on estimates, budget restrictions, and future facility plans.
• Other improvements: Moving forward through the improvement process, if bids come in under estimates and the school district is able to make additional improvements to the facilities, it will do so as guided by the school board.
In closing, Parker said he is hopeful these improvements can be made to ensure the safety of the district’s students and staff but, without the bond issue, the money needed is “not there.”