• Fort Osage hopes to pass $7.8 million bond issue

  • Every time it rains or snow melts on Buckner Elementary School’s roof, the buckets and mops come out.

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  • Every time it rains or snow melts on Buckner Elementary School’s roof, the buckets and mops come out.
    “After this last snowfall, we had some maintenance workers go up on the roof, and they could slip their fingers underneath the roof seam,” Fort Osage Superintendent Mark Enderle said at a public forum Monday. “Unfortunately, that is not the exception.”
    Fort Osage voters will decide on a $7.8 million bond issue on April 5. The bond would raise the debt service levy 11.88 cents. This would make the district’s total levy about $5.50 for every $100 of assessed valuation. On a $100,000 home, the total tax would be $1.88 more per month – or an extra $22.56 per year.
    If approved, the bond would fund several maintenance projects. This includes roof replacement at Buckner Elementary, Osage Trail Middle School, the Central Office and the Career and Technology Center; heating and air-conditioning units at all schools, with the exception of Indian Trails; installation of computer controlled temperature systems and light replacement at the stadium. If funds are left, science and Family and Consumer Science classrooms at Fort Osage High School would be renovated.
    Enderle said the key now is to get information out to the public and encourage them to vote. A super majority, or 57 percent is needed to pass the bond. The last day to register to vote is Wednesday.
    “You don’t win an election by trying to get the ‘no’ people to vote yes,” he said. “You win an election by convincing the ‘yes’ people to go out and vote.”
    Enderle said if the bond does not pass, that means the funds for the roof projects and the heating and air-conditioning replacement will have to come out of operating expenses. He said while the district does have a cushion in its reserve funds, that would take away any flexibility the district currently has when it comes to potential funding cuts.
    “If we rush into spending our reserves, it will make the time come faster when we have to make potential staffing and programming cuts,” he said. “Right now, we have a little bit of time and a little bit of flexibility compared to some of our neighbors. But if we start using that funding for roof repairs and HVAC replacement, that fund balance will go down, and the flexibility will be gone. It will make those cuts all that much more dramatic.”
    Shaun Sutton, chair of the Keep Improving District Schools committee, said he knows these are tough economic times in the country, in the state and in other school districts. But, he said, Fort Osage has been forthright about the needs and what it will take to address those needs. He said the district patrons now need to do their job and support the district.
    “I have seen some of these issues. The need is real. These are not pet projects. This is not something extra. We need to do what we can to maintain what we already have,” he said. “None of us want higher taxes, but we do want higher learning. I think this is the right direction, and if the state government won’t help us do it, then we as patrons need to say we’ll step up. We want to have good schools, and we want to help our kids grow.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For more information on the bond issue, visits the Fort Osage School District website at www.fortosage.net/bond.

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