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Voters say yes to school district levy

The .61 cent tax levy includes a five-year sunset clause and is expected to generate $6.5 million a year for the district.

Posted: Apr 2, 2019 8:00 PM
Updated: Apr 3, 2019 8:53 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph voters showed resounding support for a school district levy at the polls Tuesday.

The ballot measure passed by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin. Unofficial results show 7,819 voters in favor of the levy while 4,323 voted against it.

It needed a simple majority to pass.

The .61 cent tax levy includes a five-year sunset clause. It's expected to generate $6.5 million a year for the district.

Board members said the money generated from the levy will help pay for safety upgrades to district buildings, attract and retain teachers and staff and pay for increased operational costs.

The district hasn't had an operating tax levy since 2014.

Last year the board cut $7.5 million from the budget which leads to the closure of two schools and eliminated around 80 staff positions following the defeat of $1.15 levy increase in November 2017.

School board members and St. Joseph School District officials met at River Bluff Brewery to watch the election results on Tuesday night.

Seth Wright, President of the Board of Education, said he hoped the community would vote in support of the levy and he wasn't disappointed with the results.

"I think our staff, our teachers, and our kids will feel good tomorrow and they should," Wright said. "This shows the community values education and the future of St. Joseph."

The Superintendent of St. Joseph Schools, Doug Van Zyl, echoed Wright's excitement.

"The school district is the backbone of the community and when the backbone starts having problems you know what happens to the body," Van Zyl said. "We are just really thankful and happy with the result."

Both Wright and Van Zyl said that Tuesday night was the result of an entire team of people from students, to school district employees and everyone who voted for the levy increase.

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A Heat Advisory is set to kick in on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Heat index values will be near 105 degrees Tuesday afternoon. We'll also have better chances of showers & thunderstorms move in late Tuesday night into Wednesday as a strong cold front pushes through.
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