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Central begins campaign for bond issue

The Central R-III School District is beginning to campaign for a no-tax increase bond issue placed on the April 8 ballot.

Central Superintendent Dr. Dave Stevens said the $4.6 million bond issue is there to make four basic improvements to various district facilities, most notably West Elementary School.

A new library and media center will be constructed at West Elementary with the passage of the bond issue, as well as four new classrooms, a new entrance and offices. Renovation of the school building will also occur. Stevens said the extent of the renovations, with projects such as new tiling and new windows, depends on the costs of the proposed projects.

The current library at West Elementary does not afford many opportunities for students to research with the Internet and other forms of technology. “Basically, you’re opening up to technology, as opposed to just books,” Stevens said. The media center will offer a computer lab for students, with a seating capacity of at least two classrooms, according to Stevens.

Stevens said the district is working with the city of Park Hills to remedy the traffic situation at West Elementary, which is overly congested on mornings when the school is in session. The district hopes to separate bus traffic from “parent” traffic, Stevens said, eliminating a precarious situation. Stevens is thankful that at this point, no students have been injured coming to and going from the school, but said the matter needs to be resolved before someone is hurt.

Other projects the bond issue will finance is a new roof to Central Elementary and the replacement of bleachers at the high school football field. The district is beginning to accept bids for the different projects, and hopes to have blueprints and diagrams in time for the next meeting of the Steering Committee on Feb. 17.

The Steering Committee is comprised of district administrators, school board members and 12 to 14 members of the community. At its first meeting on Monday, the group divided into subcommittees, such as committees for finance and public relations, among others.

Stevens said the committee has dubbed the campaign for the no-tax increase bond issue Citizens For a Brighter Future and is working on effective ways to inform the public about the bond issue. The subcommittees will meet separately over the next few weeks to recruit volunteers and Stevens said the next month will mean a lot of preparation for the committee.

“We should be getting signs out, distributing a lot of brochures (by March),” Stevens said. “We want people to understand that this isn’t something we take lightly, this is something we have been planning for years.”

Ever since 1995, when Central High School went through major renovations, the Strategic Facility Planning committee began continually updating projects district buildings needed.

The district has a certain amount of money in a debt service levy which helps pay off debt the district incurs from construction and renovation projects, Stevens said. Over time the amount of debt decreases, opening avenues for new work to be done by the district. With extremely low interest rates, Stevens believes now is the time for the bond issue.

Conceding impending war and a down-turned economy leave many people uncertain about the future, Stevens said the bond issue is one thing people can count on because it will not raise taxes and visible improvements will be seen if it passes.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to propose something that could be an extra burden to our patrons,” Stevens said. “We’re trying to provide the best opportunities for our kids.”

“It’s not just for the parents and students, but for the city,” Stevens said. He feels better schools create a nicer image for Park Hills, attracting new residents and businesses.

“We’re almost all but certain there will be major cuts in the budget next year,” Stevens said, adding the district plans to use money from the bond issue solely for the proposed projects. “Our major goal is not to have money left over, but to meet our buildings needs,” he said.

The no-tax increase bond issue requires a four-sevenths majority to pass, putting the pressure on the Steering Committee. “That’s why we feel the need to make sure we communicate with people in the community,” Stevens said.

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