SJSD board unanimous to put $107 million bond on April ballot

The plan includes using the money to build one new high school while converting both Benton and Lafayette High Schools as middle schools.

Posted: Jan 25, 2021 7:41 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2021 10:56 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  --  The St. Joseph School District Board of Education has moved ahead with a plan to put a $107 million bond issue on the April ballot.

During their regular meeting on Monday evening, board members voted unanimously for the measure. The proposal would convert both Lafayette and Benton high schools into middle schools, would call for the creation of a new high school and have funding available for air conditioning in Benton, Lafayette and other schools as needed as well as other district improvements. Central would be unaffected, other than getting air conditioning improvements.

"I'm looking at the data and not the emotions attached to some of the facilities in St. Joseph," said board president Tami Pasley, referring to the decades of history at both Benton and Lafayette as high schools.

The decision culminates a nearly two-year process the district has been involved in looking at its facilities. They've formed committees, had focus groups and have been involved in a lot of other outreach to get input. The vote to go to voters with this plan was unanimous.

"I believe this is the first time we have had everyone on the right page," said board member Lute Atieh. "We have board members, staff, administrators, parents and the business community all telling us the same thing."

Atieh had previously said that the plan moving forward checks a lot of the boxes everyone had been looking for in a plan.

"The overall majority of what we heard is two schools," Atieh said. "The second box to check was we'd like a new school. The third one is we'd like operational efficiency and reduce the expenses on aging facilities. The fourth is that we want our schools to be as equal as possible. There's no reason they shouldn't be equal in their academic offerings."

District administrators say that the $107 million dollar bond equates to a 29.29 cent property tax increase which would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $55 more per year.

The district needs to file ballot language with the county clerk's office by Tuesday. It would then be on the ballot for voters in the April 6 6 election.

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