Bond issue set to address building, equipment issues during two phases

Voters in the Monroe City R-II School District approved Proposition 2 by a margin of about 63 percent on Tuesday, and Superintendent Tracy Bottoms said he looks forward to continuing to address building and equipment issues that have been priorities for several years.

Bottoms said school officials in 2014 began discussing ways to improve the district's aging buildings and equipment. A facilities group of administrators, school board members, staff members and community members have discussed how to increase safety, efficiency and learning opportunities throughout the past two years. In January, an $8.5 million bond issue was approved for the April ballot to include projects including constructing a new agriculture building elementary school, replacing the middle school and high school HVAC systems and connecting school buildings for safety.

Throughout the district, facilities “have been maintained well, but they're old buildings,” Bottoms said. With the equipment and buildings needs facing the district, officials determined that the bond issue would be split into two phases — the first phase will increase the personal property tax 43 cents per $100 in assessed value, followed by a second, no-tax increase phase in 2024.

“One of the things we kept telling our community members, at the end of the day, the last thing the school district wanted to do was ask for a penny,” he said. “However, what some of these things cost to fix over time or renovate, there's no way we can do it out of our annual budget.”

The projects will be stretched out across the two phases, exactly following the blueprint presented to voters, Bottoms said. If a safety or engineering concern comes up, he said district officials will make sure to inform community members if changes are necessary.

“I think it says a lot about our community to pull together at a time to say, 'This is what we think is best for our community and our school district and we need to support that,'” he said. “We could not do this without the support of our community.”