(KMOV) -- The Northwest R-1 School District in Jefferson County is asking taxpayers to support a $12.5 million bond issue to pay for repairs and upgrades for schools.
The improvements include new roofs, new heating and air conditioning systems, increasing the number of wireless routers in schools and building new gymnasiums at two schools.
News 4’s Russell Kinsaul asked Superintendent Dr. Paul Zieglar if the district can justify the list of expenditures and new construction in a district that’s seeing its enrollment decline. He said, “We’ve lost students, sure, but that doesn’t mean we stop maintaining the rest of the district for the 6,600 students I do have.”
Zieglar said the new gyms will be built at schools where the cafeterias also serve as gymnasiums, which causes limitations. Both of those schools also need new libraries because their current ones don’t have enough space to add computers and they’re located right in the middle of a pod of classrooms which basically puts them in the hallway.
The district plans to solve both issues by building a new gym. “When we really did the analysis, the cost to build a gym is much cheaper than to build a cafeteria and library,” Zieglar said.
The bond issue proposal calls for using part of the cafeteria for the new library and using the rest as dedicated cafeteria space, eliminating the daily need to put out tables and chairs and remove them after breakfast and redoing those tasks for lunch.
District officials have learned they might also be eligible for a state grant to cover 75percent of the cost of the gyms, if the buildings are constructed to specifications that would make them strong enough to serve as a tornado shelter.
District officials say passage of the bond would extend the district debt service without increasing the current tax levy, so residents won’t see an increase to their property taxes.
The bond issue will be on the April 8 general election ballot in Jefferson County.