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Marshall school board prepares to place bond issue on April ballot, hears student achievement reports, opts to support cigarette tax issue

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The building bond issue is back.

The Marshall Board of Education held the longest open session in recent years Tuesday, Sept. 25, and covered a number of issues during more than 2 1/2 hours.

Among the agenda items was a call by President Kathy Green to revisit the question of whether to place a bond issue on the April 2013 ballot.

Board member Wayne Crawford, who served as chairman of the citizen committee to promote the previous two bond issue campaigns, was ready to vote on the question.

"Personally, I think it goes on every ballot until it passes," Crawford said. "It isn't going to go away."

But Superintendent Ryan Huff said the board needs to iron out some details first, and the board opted to hold a special meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, to consider specific ballot language.

There's a clear consensus among members of the board that new buildings are needed, but the board may reconsider how it makes the case to voters.

Board member Douglas Koehn urged the board to consider new methods of promotion, noting that Fitzgibbon Hospital even brought in professional development people to help with the capital campaign for the cancer center a few years ago.

He suggested the campaign look at making use of social media this time around.

Board member Mike Mills, who ran for a position on the board following the most recent bond issue, said he remains committed to reconfiguring elementary classes. Marshall currently is one of the few districts in the state to organize elementary classes into single-building attendance centers.

"I think the emphasis should be on getting our children into multilevel schools," he said. "It needs to be about the kids, not the buildings."

Green said the two are linked, though.

"We're spending so much on these old buildings," she said, noting that high maintenance costs cut into funding for staff and programs.

In other business, the board agreed to endorse a resolution supporting Proposition B, an issue on the November ballot that would increase cigarette taxes in Missouri.

Prop B, if approved by voters, would increase taxes by 3.65 cents per cigarette plus 25 percent of the manurfacturer's invoice prices for roll-your-own tobacco products and 15 percent for other tobacco products, according to the resolution text.

The tax would increase the cost of cigarettes an estimated 73 cents per pack.

Half the revenue from the tax would go to K-12 education, and the rest would go to higher education and smoking prevention programs.

Koehn said he was in favor of the measure not only because it would generate revenue for schools but because it could help reduce smoking among students.

Huff noted that Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at 17 cents per pack. The average tax per pack is $1.46, he said.

The most time-consuming part of the board's agenda were extensive reports on student achievement from building-level administrators, who provided the board with detailed test result data and answered questions about what steps are being taken to address areas where scores are lagging.

The board also heard program reviews for professional development and special education programs and finalized the job description language for the new curriculum director position.

Huff said he hopes to begin the search immediately and hopes to have a director hired before Christmas. The new director will start work July 1.

The meeting started with a presentation by Marshall FFA Chapter officers, who described the organization's activities and achievements. The chapter was named No. 1 in the state this year and is among the top 10 chapters in the nation.

In closed session, the board accepted the resignations of Albert Browder, bus driver; Tina Oeth, Marshall High School paraprofessional; Danielle Yates, Eastwood Elementary School kindergarten paraprofessional; and Marcy Cash, Bueker Middle School special education teacher.

The board also approved the employment of Santiago Alarcon, Eastwood Kindergarten paraprofessional; David Kennedy, MHS custodian; and Elezer Alverez, bus driver.

Although no mention was made during open session of the security incidents that led to brief school lockdowns Friday, Sept. 21, the closed session agenda was amended before the meeting to include the Sunshine Law exemption for discussions about security systems.

The meeting adjourned at 10:35 p.m. The next regular board meeting of the board will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

Related stories:
www.marshallnews.com/topic/mpsdbond09


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Don't worry, it won't pass until the Plaza gets its facelift!

Funny how people care about a privately run business and scream for its upkeep, but won't do anything to help with their own dollars.

Maybe everyone should go to the school board meetings; make them last 5 hours a night, 5 days a week until everyone is satisfied with the proposal, then bring it up for a vote.

-- Posted by Interested Too on Sun, Oct 7, 2012, at 8:34 AM

Did you read the articles at the beginning of school about the dramatic rise in test scores in the elementary and middle school levels because of the new math program from last year? The school had to buy all of those new materials.

Search on this site for "school" and "roof." You'll see that two different buildings have had extensive roof work done the last two years.

-- Posted by fvsol on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 9:27 PM

I personally am very frustrated with the school system right now. We have 3 new administrators, and they all seem to like to spend money on things that are not directly linked to the education of our students. I appreciate that we need to take care of our buildings, and it is nice to see things brought up to date. However, when I see so much spending on things such as paint, concrete, flags, and tv's, it makes me question where the money would really go if the bond issue passed. Lets replace broken student desks, get updated textbooks, fix bathroom stall doors so they stay shut, fix the leaky roofs and replace broken cafeteria tables. And while we're at it, bring the theatres up to par - the school and community both use these and they are often the only part of our district out-of-town guests see. I guess what I'm saying is.....show me you can be responsible with the money we have, direct it to the benefit and education of our kids and give the teachers what they need to teach them. Then maybe I will feel better about voting for a bond issue.

-- Posted by outsidelookin'in on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 2:41 PM

The building I attended were built in the 60's. Updated with carpet, plug-ins, plenty of space. I think spending 50 minutes, 3 days a week in a room is different than 7-8 hours some 170 days?

Do our buildings have the storage, space that is needed for today? Why did Fitzgibbon build a new hospital? The new jail? Martin Center? The Ambulance Building? The new wal-Mart? The expanded airport? The new YMCA? 9 more golf holes at the Park? The Pool? The new turf field at Valley?

-- Posted by mu-grad on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 9:46 AM

Socrates did a pretty good job of educating (seven scholars at a time) in any old room, or even under a tree.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 7:41 PM

I also have a question for "MU-Grad". Do you feel that your education at MU was sub-par due to the fact that most of the buildings on MU's campus are older than the local grade schools in question?

-- Posted by windowview on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 2:31 PM

Amen.

According to any of the research done on primary and secondary education, the number one thing that affects educational outcomes is the quality of the teacher. Number two is the quality of the curriculum.

Buildings, supplies, and activities are somewhere down the list.

I'd much rather see us spend money on quality teachers (somebody find Don Garst and ask him what makes an elementary school tick), and quality books, computers, and educational tools.

Hell, my understanding is that we don't even have a line item in the budget for facility maintenance and repair, just custodial staff and supplies.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 2:23 PM

I still don't understand how the age of a building effects the quality of education. I find it personally offensive when someone says that I won't vote for the bond because I don't care about the kids. Really? I won't vote for a new school because we have better building than what will be built to replace them. We have building that have not been taken care of. The age of the building has nothing to do with the quality of what goes on inside. Are you telling me that those that live in new home on the golf course care more about their children then the ones that live in older homes? If the school board and administration don't take care of the old ones, why would they take care of new ones.

-- Posted by windowview on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 9:22 PM

The last 2 bond issues, the District said any empty buildings would be sold or demolished. Not left to sit empty.

-- Posted by mu-grad on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:52 AM

Our old school buildings will join our old hospital as unused structures that will eventually cost more tax money to demolish once the realization that no one is going to do anything with them sets in.

Same story in other communities nationwide. Once in a blue moon somebody comes up with a new use for these old school buildings, but mostly the new uses are subsidized by tax money from somewhere, either low income housing, low income nursing homes, or some other similar use.

Northwest is a pretty nice building, I don't see us tearing that one down, so it will still be used I would guess, and we will still incur the cost of operating that one.

I predict Benton, Eastwood, and Southeast will be abandoned for years with occassional excitement over using them for something that eventually will fall through. Finally, they will be demolished.

I suspect the "new schools or bust" crowd doesn't really want to talk about this subject though.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 8:18 AM

I personally will NEVER vote for a new school till I find out what they plan to do with the 4 other ones they plan to replace.anyone taken a drive down Brunswick lately? I think the last time I watched birds fly in and out the windows of the old hospital ! I tell this to anyone who will listen!

-- Posted by left n sf on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 10:01 PM

Thanks for the help. I'm not very familiar with that site. I couldn't find 127. There were only about 50 school districts (out of about 500), and about a dozen of those 50 were "elementary-only" districts. So maybe in the bottom 40?

A bunch are listed at $0.00, but it appears that the information has not been reported yet. There is nothing for the assessed value of these districts. You must have counted those in your total of 127. I doubt that's accurate.

I would say were are comfortably in the bottom 10% of tax levy already. Too comfortably for some people, it seems. I would be willing to bump it up a bit in order to help out the kids. For a few dollars a month it is worth it.

-- Posted by fvsol on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 5:07 PM

Yes, parkuser, I own a farm.

I have never recieved a single check from the USDA in my life, ever.

Nice try though. Typical city folk.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 3:45 PM

fvsol,

Go to the DESE site and look up the tax levy info then download it as an Excel file.

You can then sort by any column, like Total Levy, and then the districts will be in order by levy amount.

Or, you can get Eric to send me an email and I will send the spreadsheet file to you.

It is broken down by operating levy, teacher salaries, debt service, and capital projects.

Some examples of lower levy's than Marshall would be Popular Bluff R-1 $2.93, Pettis Co. R-XII $2.89, Mountain Grove R-III $2.75, School of the Osage $2.87, Camdenton R-III $2.87, etc, etc,...

I agree that we are definitely not at a high levy amount compared to many other districts and we should be happy about that, not worrying that we are not paying enough.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 3:43 PM

I would be willing to bet that Smart Dog is either a saline county farmer or a saline county farm land owner.

Heaven forbid any farm owner that has ever gotten any farmer's welfare ie subsidies form the goverment give a little more of it back to help the schools!!!!

-- Posted by parkuser on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 11:53 AM

I'd actually love to see the list of 127 since I wasn't able to find any.

-- Posted by fvsol on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 12:03 AM

Where is the smallest school levy? I think I want to move there.

-- Posted by red dog on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 9:54 PM

Only thing that matters in all of this is our kids get new schools! Now my kids will be out of school before any of the new schools they could use will be built, but we need to get moving in that direction in April. Forget who is organizing and where the schools are. It needs to be done and we need to get it done asap!

-- Posted by oldschool17 on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 3:59 PM

Curriculum director???really. Why hire someone. We have always jumped on every bandwagon that comes along. That elementary math program is a good example. So will this mean teachers won't have to work in the summer to write curriculum? That position is a joke.

-- Posted by Pasta on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 12:42 PM

fvsol,

There are 127 school districts in Missouri with lower total levy's than Marshall. We rank in the lower half along with all the other districts who have little or no debt service levy.

Should I post a list of those as well?

Additionally, it's somewhat more complex than that. How do we know what the county assesor is using for a base valuation in those other districts?

I know that I have had the valuation of my property in Saline County raised a few times in the past 10 years. This despite the fact that real estate values have fallen during the same period.

How 'bout those who want to have their property taxes increased more (or again, I reckon) just go ahead and write checks to the school district to pay for that new school building?

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 11:21 AM

I for one will vote for this to pass each and every time its on the ballot. I am more than willing to invest a few extra dollars for my kids and others education.

-- Posted by mtownresident on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 10:57 AM

Growth creates the increased tax base that funds new, pretty buildings and new fun bureacracies. Growth also generally creates the need for additional facilities and bureacracies.

Growth first, then increased revenue. It's really not a hard concept.

If you seek to increase tax revenue from the tax base you already have, you are lowering the standard of living for every taxpayer by lowering their disposable income.

Continuously raising sales taxes and property taxes discourages growth and investment in the community.

I find no logic in the attitude that if we continue to raise sales taxes and property taxes that somehow that will lead to growth in Marshall. Economics will not support that idea.

Of course, these days we also like to give property tax breaks to businesses leaving individuals to carry the burden of paying for all this lovely new stuff.

So, all you folks that love to impose higher taxes on yourselves are either much more well off than I am, or must not be paying anything in the first place, eh?

I swear this community is like a bunch of spoiled adolescents that are jealous of other communities but have no idea how those communities got where they are economically, they just want what the "cool" communities have.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 10:34 AM

In case you hadn't noticed, Smart Dog is against anything that looks like higher taxes.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 10:11 AM

mu-grad

you are right, inquiring minds want to know. Maybe we should all show up October 10th and find out what might happen now. The last plan looked pretty good. don't know why it didn't pass. It will be interesting to see what the board comes up with now.

All I know and am interested in is that our kids and teachers deserve the best we can provide. If what we have now is the best we can provide we are sad excuses for parents, grandparents and patrons of the Marshall School District. No wonder the students have little to no school pride. They are a reflection of us!

-- Posted by walkingblind on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 12:04 AM

Let's provide solutions and suggestions!

What kind of schools need to be built, expanded?

What grade levels in the buildings? Get the 5th grade out of that trailer--my suggestion for sure.

-- Posted by mu-grad on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 7:17 PM

I have been so disappointed in the past by Marshall voters and I suspect I will be again come April. What is wanted? It seem to me the "greybeards" have the attitude that if it was good enough for them, it is good enough for their kids and grandkids. OK, so be it.

The system does still work. It will continue working as long as there is a roof over the kid's heads and teachers can be hired. What do the teachers think about working in the environment they have now? I can't imagine them not wanting something better.

Do we really want to go back to a so called "neighborhood" school system? Then we had better pass some kind of bond to get the money to buy more trailers. Another thing to worry about is upgrading the plumbing in the buildings. I was called in a few years ago for a plumbing problem and found a main water line that is original passes under the gym floor at Eastwood. This is just one example of what needs to be done to completely refurbish the old buildings.

I really hope the bond issue passes this time but I am not holding my breath. Marshall people can be so apathetic and that is sad.

-- Posted by red dog on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:48 PM

Smart dog is against anything that may help the growth of Marshall or Saline County!

-- Posted by willie makit on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:35 PM

Are you talking about lowering this levy? If so, you may wish to reconsider.

Marshall: $3.10

Boonville: $4.25

Brookfield: $4.75

Carrollton: $4.89

Chillicothe: $4.29

Concordia: $4.37

Fulton: $4.18

Gilliam: $4.15

Glasgow: $4.04

Hannibal: $3.41

Kirksville: $4.12

Mexico: $4.02

Miami: $3.77

Moberly: $4.58

Norborne: $4.33

Odessa: $4.94

Pilot Grove: $4.75

Santa Fe: $4.95

Sedalia: $7.70

Slater: $4.42

Warrensburg: $4.44

I don't know much about any of this information. Just wanted to compare Marshall to others. I searched on the education department site for area schools. I assume it is correct. It was the "Tax Levy" number for each school. None lower than Marshall in the ones I searched for.

-- Posted by fvsol on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:24 PM

Smart Dog,

I will let you in on a little secret; we need new schools. It needs to be a bond issue on every ballot, until it passes. Go to any of our schools they all need repair.

Thanks, have a good day!

-- Posted by meagain on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 3:29 PM

It sounds as if Mr. Crawford is beginning to take this bond issue stuff a little personally.

"Personally, I think it goes on every ballot until it passes," Crawford said. "It isn't going to go away."

Why not just come out and say "We're going to hammer this down the taxpayers throats whether they like it or not."

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 1:57 PM

So will the school board be lowering the operating levy by the amount it was raised following the expiration of our previous bond for building the High School and Northwest?

Voters were asked to add the amount of the previous bond levy to the operating levy some years back in the early 2000's to pay for technology upgrades at the time that levy expired.

Well, our technology should have been upgraded by now, and it's about time to crank that operating levy back where it was, wouldn't you say?

It would definitely help get support for a new bond levy, I believe. Or perhaps our school officials and board members just plan to raise our property taxes AGAIN for this latest "wish list" item?

I could go on about how new schools are 'desirable' and not 'essential', and how these are not such good economic times for folks not working in schools or government jobs, but I find that concern about rising taxes seem to fall on deaf ears in our area.

I swear I have never seen such a conservative community that loved new taxes more than this one.

Ah, well, here comes some more taxes to pay for things we don't need because we are jealous of communities who are actually growing which increases the tax base, and that increased tax base is what pays for such things.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 11:33 AM

So glad the school board had the opportunity to hear from the Marshall FFA Officers. These kids are not given nearly the credit they deserve! In the FFA are students from every culture, background and economic status. This is probably the most diversified club in the High School. Not to mention they are some of the hardest working, and most giving group of kids you can find! So, I encourage you all to support these students as they represent our school, community, county and state...and they do it well!!

-- Posted by chillin-on-a-dirtroad on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 8:16 AM

Way to go Marshall FFA! GO OWLS!!!

-- Posted by FFAmom on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 12:43 AM


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