Special bond issue for school district will be on April ballot; new after school program to begin in spring

On Thursday, Dec. 20 the Mount Vernon R-V School Board held its regular school board meeting.  Below are some items of interest:
Attendance remains relatively steady as compared to this time last year. Our average daily attendance in November was 1,354.74 and the District attendance percentage was 94.75 percent. Our ADA for November increased by 8.77 students from last year.
The board considered and approved three important initiatives impacting the district in the spring of 2019:
The board approved the institution of an after-school program beginning in March 2019.
Mrs. Tamara Violett has been working to create a framework to meet a community need of after-school care for students.  
The program, known as Summit, is intended for grades K-5 with a focus on student academic support and wellness initiatives.
Toward those ends, after-school tutoring and enrichment programs, snacks, and activity time will be provided.
Parents will pay tuition of $20-$30 per week and care will be provided from after-school until 6 p.m.
The academic portion of the program will be held at both MVES and MVIS with all students transitioning to MVIS for activity time.
We plan to begin Summit in March with a cap of 50 students at first to help us ensure we get off to a good start. We will be ready for full-implementation in the 2019-20 school year.
We are very excited about the potential benefits of this program for our community.
The board voted to approve a resolution calling for a special school bond election during the April 2nd General Election.
Proposition Mt’Neer Strong will be on the April 2 general election ballot.
Over the past few months we have investigated and reported on the deterioration of our older campuses.
Paying special attention to the middle school, elementary school, and south campus, a third party company estimated we face nearly $10 million in deferred maintenance projects which place the longevity of these campuses in peril. Below are some of the critical facility issues faced by the district:
-Roof replacements are needed at all three of our older campuses in addition to large portions of the roof at our high school campus.
-Numerous HVAC units are in need of replacement.
-Windows and doors at the three oldest campuses need to be replaced.
-The district plans to install fire alarms in buildings where they do not currently exist.
A bond issue would also help us fix a number of electrical concerns.
Our three oldest campuses were designed for a different style of education.
MVES, MVMS, and our south campus all have electrical systems that were not intended to power the widespread use of technology teachers now use on a daily basis.
In order to meet demand in classrooms, our electrical systems have been altered intermittently.  
This has caused them to be inefficient, ineffective and inadequate over the long-term.
We face a concerning structural issue at the north end of our middle school campus.
The foundation has dropped three inches causing issues with plumbing and leaving a gap around the base of the wall
The issue seems to be connected with drainage issues and could be halted with work to correct those problems.
The bond issue would help us eliminate two safety concerns by removing aging buildings that are no longer safe for use.
This bond issue would also help us achieve another long-term goal held by the board.
For many years, the district has planned to construct a new Early Childhood Building.
By investing in needed repairs at our south campus, we would be able to repurpose that building into an Early Childhood Center for our Pre-K students while also bringing our district-level administration into one location.
This would be significantly cheaper than building a new building and while stabilizing an aging building in need of maintenance.
To generate funds to solve the large number of pressing facility issues, the proposed bond issue would adjust the debt service levy by $0.35.
The district has budgeted very conservatively for decades.
Our last levy increase was 1999 when the operating levy went from $2.61 to $2.75 which is where our operating levy has remained.
This is the lowest operational levy allowed in Missouri.
The debt service levy of $0.57 has been in place since 1996.  Our overall levy has been at $3.32 since 1999.
Out of 45 area schools in southwest Missouri, the tax rate for Mt. Vernon R-V is the second-lowest. Only one district has a lower levy.
If we increased the debt service levy by $0.35, making our levy $3.67, our total levy would move us to 32nd place (ahead of only 13 schools), which is still below the average levy ($3.91) in southwest Missouri.
An increase to $3.67 would have the following impacts (based on mid-range appraised values of property):
 Residential Property    Appraised Value of $100,000,    $4.99 expense per month;
Personal Property    Appraised Value of $20,000, $1.94 expense per month;
Commercial Property    Appraised Value of $500,000,    $46.67 expense per month;
Agricultural Property    Soil Grade 4:  160 acres,    $2.27 expense per month;
Agricultural Property    Soil Grade 5:  160 acres,    $1.15 expense per month;
Agricultural Property    Soil Grade 6:  160 acres,    $0.88 expense per month;
In the coming weeks, we will do our best to inform the staff and community about the needs in our district which led to Proposition Mt’Neer Strong.  
As you may know, there are restrictions placed on employees when it comes to advocating for ballot measures.
During school hours, we are permitted to educate patrons about Proposition Mt’Neer Strong, but we are not able to campaign in support or opposition of the measure.  Any staff member wanting to advocate in support of the issue must do so only on their personal time.
Additionally, there is a prohibition of the use of district email accounts in support or opposition.
In conjunction with Proposition Mt’Neer Strong, the board approved two measures contingent upon voter approval in April.
The board voted to select LJ Hart & Company as the Municipal Bond Underwriter should the initiative pass in April. The district has had a partnership with LJ Hart for many decades in this capacity.
Additionally, the board released a ‘Request for Quotation’ for a Guaranteed Energy Performance Contract in relation to the projects planned as part of Proposition Mt’Neer Strong.
Bids are due to the Superintendent’s Office by Thursday, Jan. 10.
The next scheduled regular board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Middle School Board Room.
-Submitted by Mt. Vernon Superintendent Scott Cook


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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