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Springfield schools seek $14M bond issue

The Springfield City School District will ask voters to approve a 2.2-mill bond issue it says would allow for security and safety improvements at the schools without raising tax bills.

An old bond issue will expire at the end of 2013 that costs property owners about the same as the tax issue on the May 7 ballot, district Treasurer Dale Miller said.

“The average homeowner is not going to see an increase,” he said. “What they’re doing is, they’re not going to see a decrease the following year as that millage rolls off. They’re maintaining that millage at that level.”

Taxes would decrease by about $67 for the owner of a $100,000 home if the bond issue fails. It would raise nearly $14 million over 12 years.

“The community was extremely generous and wise when they invested in our new buildings,” said Superintendent Dave Estrop. “This allows us to continue to maintain them over the long haul. Beyond that, it allows us to improve student safety and security, and not just through technology but through things like improved parking and student pick-up and drop-off areas.”

Lavonne Beers lives near Perrin Woods Elementary School. With her children grown, she no longer has much contact with the schools but said she is likely to vote for the bond issue.

“I think I would vote for it because I think the schools need it,” she said. “From what I hear, there’s a lot of things that they could improve on. I just think there’s need for different things in the school.”

The district plans to use some of the money for technology upgrades like purchasing tablets, computers and projectors for instructional use in the classroom.

“We think we’re ahead of the curve on what we’re able to offer and we’d like to stay ahead of that curve for the students,” said Miller.

One of the major concerns to be addressed is the improvement of student drop-off and pick-up areas at several elementary schools. Those areas were built to accommodate the level of traffic expected when the district bused students who lived a mile or more from their school, said Miller. Springfield has since reduced busing, now only transporting students who live more than two miles from school, and more parents drop off and pick up their children.

“It was not designed to handle that amount of traffic,” he said. “That’s first on the to-do list. That would be No. 1, along with improving the safety and security within all the buildings, the entrances and camera systems.”

The district’s 16 buildings, although new, need some maintenance like roof work and the bond money would also be used for new desks and buses as needed.

“At some point, like anybody’s home, you’re going to have things that need to be upgraded and things that need to be replaced,” said Estrop. “They’re a tremendous investment, our new schools are, for this community, and we want to keep them that way.”

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