The bond issue would be used to pay for improvements and repairs to the district's buildings, while the top priority for the tax levy would be raising pay for teachers and staff.
Boonville voters will see two initiatives to raise money for the school district on their April ballot: a bond issue and a property tax hike.
Proposition 2 allows the Boonville R-1 School District to borrow $9 million by issuing bonds. The issue is expected to be a no-tax bond, meaning the district does not expect to raise the debt service property tax levy to pay off the money it hopes to borrow. The state requires schools to use funds borrowed through bond issues for capital improvement.
The district does hope to raise the ceiling on the property tax that pays for its general operating costs. Proposition 3 would raise the ceiling $0.49, from $3.375 per $100 of assessed valuation to $3.865. For a home with an assessed value of $100,000, the owner would pay an additional $93.10 per year, according to school Superintendent Dr. Sarah Marriott.
The district expects the levy would raise an additional $685,000 a year from taxpayers, Marriott said. Because revenue from the property tax levy goes towards the district’s operating costs, it would have a lot more flexibility with how it uses that money.
Bond issue: What would it fund?
Upgrading facilities is a priority for the district, Marriott said. The district commissioned a facility study that identified $37 million in improvement projects the school could take on. The district has narrowed that down to $21.2 million worth of projects.
The bond issue would pay for what Marriott called “Phase 1,” which the district expects to cost $9.8 million. The district hopes to pay $9 million of that with bond proceeds, and the rest with part of revenue from the proposed property tax increase, Marriott said.
Phase 1 plans include improvements to each of the district’s six buildings:
Boonville High School, $3.5 million:Roof replacement An addition to connect the southeast corner of the high school to the Boonslick Technical Education Center New lockers and replacement of wood paneling above lockers Remodeled science labs Kitchen floor replacement New folding partition for the stage in the gym Fixing a failing concrete slab in the girl’s locker room
Boonslick Technical Education Center, $2.2 million:Roof replacement Interior remodeling Electrical and lighting upgrades and repairs
Laura Speed Elliott Middle School, $1.7 million:Roof replacement and repairs Tuck-pointing Locker and floor tile replacement Upgrades to the 8th grade science lab Electrical and lighting repairs and replacements Resolving the dead-end corridor on the second floor
David Barton Elementary, $2.0 million:Roof replacement Playground improvements
Hannah Cole Primary, $425,000:Mechanical repairs
Administration office, $10,000:Loading dock improvements
The district would also use bond funds to pay for mechanical repairs and upgrades, and smaller projects, in each building.
Tax levy: What would it pay for?
The district has fewer restrictions on how it can use property tax revenue. While the bond issue is a one-time fund of $9 million, property owners pay the property tax each year, giving the school a long-term source of revenue.
If the levy passes, a small amount of the revenue would go towards paying for the capital improvements not covered by the bond, Marriott said. But the top priority for those funds is giving teachers and staff a pay raise, Marriott said.
Salaries for teachers in the Boonville school district are some of the lowest in the area, Marriott said. The district compared its salaries with those of 17 other area schools, and Boonville is among the lowest for teacher pay.
Currently, the starting salary in Boonville for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $30,000. In New Franklin, which has fewer than one-third the number of students in its district as Boonville, those teachers start at $30,750.
In Hallsville, a similarly-sized district to Boonville, teachers with a bachelor’s degree start at $32,000, while in Blair Oaks, teachers start at $35,250. In Columbia, the largest district with which Boonville schools compared itself, teachers start at $35,500.
Starting pay for Boonville teachers with master’s degrees stacks up better compared to other districts. In Boonville, teachers with master’s degrees start at $35,250 — in New Franklin, $32,500 — in Hallsville, $34,700. Blair Oaks still has a much higher starting point at $38,350, but Boonville’s pay is close to Columbia, which starts teachers with master’s degrees at $36,501.
Boonville teachers also top out at a comparatively low salary of $52,350. That’s higher than the much-smaller New Franklin district, which has teachers max out at $46,900. It’s also slightly lower than Blair Oaks, where teachers can make up to $54,950. In Hallsville, teachers can make up to $59,450. In Columbia, they can make up to $71,866.
Teacher and staff salaries would be the school’s top priorities with funds from the tax levy, but Marriott said it’s not the only plan. Another high priority is hiring a school resource officer from the district.
The officer would technically be employed by the Boonville Police Department, but the school would pay the salary, Marriott said. Aside from Boonville, every district in the Tri-County-Central conference has at least one school resource officer, she said.
Marriott said the officer would be someone students can go to if they feel unsafe and would be a positive presence in the district. Currently, the district has officers visit classrooms so students can have positive interactions with them, Marriott said.
Adding a resource officer would mainly be about student safety, Marriott said. Boonville hasn’t had significant school safety issues like those that have made national headlines around the country, but Marriott said that doesn’t mean something serious won’t happen. Adding a school resource officer would be a proactive measure, she said.
The officer would be shared by each school in the Boonville district, Marriott said. In Boone County, where each district has at least one school resource officer, those officers are mainly responsible for investigating crimes on school property, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department website. They are also supposed to serve as positive role models for students, teach students, faculty and staff about law enforcement, and to work with other government agencies that may be working with students.
The district has more ideas on how it could use additional funds from taxpayers, including hiring a math interventionist to give early help to elementary-age students struggling with math, Marriott said. The district also wants to restore an art, music or physical education teacher position for one of the lower-grade schools, she said.
In the 2009-2010 school year, during the height of the recession, the district eliminated several positions, Marriott said. Now, the district has one art, one music and one math teacher each teaching at both Hannah Cole Primary and David Barton Elementary.