January 8, 2018

The St. James R-I School Board members brought in the New Year with a three hour work session on Tuesday, January 2. This was the latest of a series of work sessions over the past year associated with facility improvement plans for the District. At this work session, the Board officially decided to place a bond issue on the April 3, 2018 ballot. Dake Wells Architecture was selected as the District’s architect for the projects. The District and Dake Wells will be organizing several community engagement meetings between now and April. I will publish the dates and time of these meetings in my next column.

The three projects are to construct, equip and furnish a performing arts auditorium at the high school campus; construct, equip and furnish an early childhood center on the elementary campus; and to renovate portions of the high school. The planned renovation will focus on repairing/replacing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC issues throughout the high school building. There are plans to repurpose other areas, including the area connecting the performing arts auditorium to the northeast corner of the present high school.

This will be a no-tax rate increase initiative. The adjusted debt service levy of the School District is estimated to remain unchanged at $0.90 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property. Passage of this initiative in April will extend the present debt service levy by 7 years (from 2032 to 2039). The bond proceeds will allow for safety enhancements for preschool students and improved opportunities and space at the high school for students in the fine arts programs. The performing arts auditorium would enhance many of our programs including the technology department by offering students opportunities to learn about advanced programming, recording, and sound systems. Furthermore, the addition of the performing arts auditorium will be something the community can be proud of and use for many community related events. Additionally, the movement of some of the fine arts classes will free up space for other needs in the high school such as locker rooms, a new weight room and sufficient space for wrestling. There will be safety and energy upgrades with all projects.

We are very excited about the possibilities of this bond initiative. School improvement is an ongoing process and something school districts should never stop doing. The three selected projects placed on the April 3 ballot are all student centered improvements. St. James R-I students deserve the same opportunities that are being offered at many of our neighboring districts. If you have a particular topic you would like addressed, or if you have any ideas or questions concerning the bond initiative, please contact me by email at mj@stjschools.org or by writing me at 122 E. Scioto St.